Do you know the story of Pygmalion? In Ovid‘s narrative, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory and, after seeing the Propoetides he was “not interested in women”, but his statue was so beautiful and realistic that he fell in love with it. In time, Aphrodite‘s festival day came, and Pygmalion made offerings at her altar. There, too scared to admit his desire, he quietly wished for a bride who would be “the living likeness of my ivory girl.” When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue, and found that its lips felt warm. He kissed it again, and found that the ivory had lost its hardness. Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion’s wish. He married the ivory sculpture changed to a woman under the goddess’ blessing and they had a daughter, Paphos, from whom the city‘s name is derived.
Pictured above is Pygmalion’s point of view when admiring his beloved statue/wife in the interpretation of Italian sculptor Pietro Ceccardo Staggi (1754-1814) in his Pygmalion and Galatea (1790-1792). The attribution of the statue to Staggi comes directly from the Hermitage museum, where it is on permanent display in the European Fine Art Collection, alongside statues of Antonio Canova. This is interesting to note because, for once, Wikipedia seems to be wrong, as it attributes the statue to French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet, with a different date (1763) and even an interesting explanation of the fact that, according to Wikipedia the invention of the name Galatea is modern: Falconet’s title was more faithful to Ovid’s story: Pygmalion aux pieds de sa statue qui s’anime, “Pygmalion at the feet of his statue, which comes to life”
Photo tip! There is probably about a billion pictures taken into the Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg. Apart from family and friends pictures, or selfies, just to document the fact that one has visited The largest and oldest museum in the world, the vast majority of pictures just document the artwork on display or the magnificence of the museum itself. But these pictures rarely tell a story, even less often they are original. When you find yourself in a place that has already been photographed a thousand million times, it is ok to just have fun and “happily snap away picture after picture”, for a while. But then try to get a different perspective, a different point of view, not just to take a picture, but to make a picture that you can actually call your own, because it is (at least a bit) different from all the others you have seen before and because it either tells a story on its own or there is a story you want to tell and illustrate with your photo.
Would you like to take part in a photo walk or in a photo tour in Saint Petersburg or any other city in Russia, or to have one organised just for you? If so, do get in touch and we’ll be happy to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience for you!