Saturday, November 19, 2011

Art And the Common Girl

One of the first dates that Jeff ever took me on was to the Getty Museum. Not the big collection on the top of the hill along the Sepulveda Pass -- no, the Getty Villa in Malibu. Mind you, this was twenty years ago, and not only were the ancient collections there, but the art collections were as well. They had just acquired Van Gogh's "Irises,"and Jeff was eager to see it.

The villa is a model of an ancient Roman villa, complete with fountains, herb gardens and a magnificent view of the ocean. It was so beautiful outside most of the many times that we went there, that it was sometimes difficult for me to go inside and look at the collections because the velvet walls, rich colors, and dark rooms seemed like such a heavy contrast.

But there was one painting that always struck me -- I could stand and gaze at the folds in the princess's gown forever. The painting was HUGE...took up a whole wall, and it always surprised me when it was meeting me as I turned the corner...probably because it was such a maze. It is a portrait of Princess Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. I admit it...I really just covet the dress.

From that first visit, the Getty has played an important part in our family life. Jeff and I went on several dates there, we used to take the kids there as well. I remember hearing about how one woman in my La Leche League group had been insulted there because she had nursed her toddler there. I found that incredibly ironic, because how I kept my toddler interested was by carrying him around there in a sling, showing him the many paintings of a standing Jesus nursing at Mary's breast. When we go back to L.A., we still go to the new museum, and while Jeff managed to get to the new refurbished Villa, I still have not made it. I would love to see a Greek play there.

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