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Esther and Apollo

My mirror has the shape of a Greek lyre. Its frame is back-to-back swan-like inverted S’s of painted black wood. Bas-reliefs of golden laurel leaves
classical art memories
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My favorite object d’art is a small mirror in a corner of my living room.  It sits above my husband’s triangular desk on which he has placed his favorite object d’art, a wooden Maltese Falcon.

My mirror has the shape of a Greek lyre.  Its frame is back-to-back swan-like inverted S’s of painted black wood.  Bas-reliefs of golden laurel leaves rest mid-frame on both sides.  Gold also outlines its slender neck and reed-like strings rising from the small bridge across the top. Apollo himself, God of the Lyre, looks out from the broader bottom, in golden bas-relief.  Looking into the mirror, I see my face reflected at the center, just above Apollo’s.

You know I have a passion for everything Greek.  Even my young granddaughter noticed.  At age six she asked why we had so many Dionysuses in my house”?  And we do.  A colorful ceramic mask and a small statue of a satyr peeing, both from Florence, a Caravaggio print of the wine God drunk and decadent amongst rotting fruit, and a Lalique candle holder in which his wreathed face gleams when lit. My sister-in-law  chose that one for my birthday years ago. 

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And not only Dionysus.  In our bedroom, there is a small reproduction of the sculpture of The Three Graces, a huge copy of Matisse’s Icarus Falling, a little copy of Dante Gabrielle Rosetti’s painting of Proserpine eating that fateful pomegranate.  In one of our many moves, we lost a replica of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Woman, but a piece of the Metropolitan Museum’s Roman Wall Painting sits above our dining room table.  It is the depiction of the stage set of a Greek theater, of course.

Three graces sculpture
a small reproduction of the sculpture of The Three Graces in our bedroom.

But that mirror remains a favorite.  It is not a reproduction of an artwork I can find on Google.  The piece was carefully chosen by my mother, Esther, to sit atop a  delicate Chinese black lacquer table in her living room, which she decorated in what I used to call ‘Asian-Jewish Renaissance.’  I have no idea where she found the mirror.   When my mother showed it to me, she said, “I hope you like this.  I bought it with you in mind, and want it to be yours when I die.”  I never thought she appreciated that part of me that was a classics professor.  Nor did I acknowledge how much of me she understood.  Now when I stand before the mirror, I see us both, mother and daughter, looking very much alike and loving each other from afar.

Images are from the author’s personal collection.

Born Lois Settler in Baltimore, MD. in 1940, she graduated from Goucher College in 1960 and completed MAT at The Johns Hopkins University in 1961. Lois married Jonas Spatz, 1962, MA, PhD in Classics from Indiana University Bloomington 1968. She taught classics at Brooklyn College, Park College, University of Missouri-Kansas City (retired 1999), San Francisco State University, Fromm Institute for Life Long Learning, and is now a volunteer at ‘Lincoln Towers University’, which she started at her co-op complex of 9 apartment buildings. Lois has two sons and two grandchildren.

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