Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Art, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien, Ophelia, Quotes, Tiffany, Tom Hiddleston

“What I love belongs to me. Not the chairs and tables in my house, but the masterpieces of the world. It is only a question of loving them enough.”
–Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco

I don’t know who Bibesco is, really, but apparently she knows me. That quote sums up exactly how I feel about a few lovely things that are, to put it mildly, a bit out of my price-range. It’s a life philosophy that’s kept me from going crazy…or landing in jail.

For instance, I love the Tiffany fountain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC so much I’d probably go nuts—except that, decades ago, I decided it’s actually mine. The Met just houses it for me because I don’t have enough space to do it justice.

Tiffany fountain commons

photo credit: mgarbowski via photopin cc

The same is true for John Everett Millais’ painting Ophelia.

Don’t ask me why I adore this painting so much. It doesn’t reflect any madness or suicidal tendencies on my part. Honest.

But I know it seems a little morbid. My poor mother-in-law learned it was my favorite painting shortly after His Highness and I got married. I’ll never forget her face as she frowned down at the glazed stare of drowning girl.

“Your favorite? Really?” Somehow she kept her voice as gentle as ever. “But… But why?”

Ophelia commons

photo credit: freeparking 😐 via photopin cc

That’s all she said out loud. Behind her eyes, though, her brain was pinging with questions. Like… “Oh, dear heaven…he’s married a nut job?” and “Too late for an annulment?”

And after a lifetime of looking at Ophelia only in books, as sad as a hungry kid in front of a candy-store window, I finally got to see it in real life.

kid at candy store window istock

A few years ago, we went to London for one of His Highness’s work conferences. While he attended meetings, I took a zillion tube rides and walked my feet raw to get to the Tate, where Ophelia hangs. I made a beeline for that room, plopped myself down on the bench in front of it, and drank its beauty in until they forced me to leave, nearly two hours later.

They probably suspected I was casing the joint, planning to come back at midnight, dressed like Catwoman. If only they’d known… I’m a chicken, not a cat, and would never risk exposing my jiggly bits in that outfit. Luckily, Bibesco’s wisdom has made my life of crime unnecessary.

Of course, many other beauties could be on the “MINE” list. Hundreds of them, probably…Chihuly glass and Faberge eggs and Tom Hiddleston and Mozart piano concertos and the Book of Kells. Tom Hiddleston commons
photo credit: gdcgraphics via photopin cc

But that would be greedy. So I settle for “owning” those two masterpieces only. The rest just go on Pinterest. 🙂

How about you? Are there any treasures you love so much they feel like your own? Or are you one of those lucky, non-materialistic people who can be content without them?

8 thoughts on “Owning Ophelia

  1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Oh, Kathleen, you are not alone. I feel so proprietary over many of Monet’s paintings, a few Renoirs too. And there are research websites I visit so often I feel like I own them. But I’m really good at sharing 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you are, Shana! There are a few Monets and Renoirs I’d grieve over losing altogether! And wow…the research sites must be pretty fabulous if they rank up with the Impressionists. 🙂 Any time you feel like sharing them, too, I’d love to go look!

  2. catslady says:

    I remember when we were able to take a trip to Europe and was so excited about going to the Lourve. I could have stayed for weeks but only had one day. Got to where the Mona Lisa was suppose to be and it was an empty square – it was visiting Russia. Still upset I never saw it live.

    1. What a terrible disappointment that must have been, Catslady! Like going to a play to see a special actor star, and getting the understudy! Although, my mother took my sister and me to see the Mona Lisa when it came to the US years ago, and I remember waiting in line for what seemed like hours. And then, when we finally got up to it, I was shocked and let down to discover how small the painting is. Of course, I was a very little kid, so I wasn’t able to appreciate art. At that age, small means insignificant. 😉 Maybe you’ll get lucky someday and be able to see it after all!

  3. I’ll follow your good, non-greedy example and only covet two gems: Berthe Morisot’s painting, La Lecture, because it reminds me so much of my daughter. I have a print of it in my office. http://www.fine-arts.org/collection/reading-la-lecture/ Believe it or not, it’s actually right in our backyard, Kathleen. It’s part of the permanent collection of Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL. Wasn’t it nice of me to lend it to them? 😉
    My other is the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. http://youtu.be/ydk9WBianNw
    I won’t be gluttonous and claim the entire work (even though I love the other three movements, too). I’ve often wished my writing could conjure the feeling this movement evokes in me. I can dream, right?

    1. You were so smart to leave the links to your treasures, Nancy! That painting is beyond fabulous, and I can definitely see the resemblance to College Girl! And the Beethoven is so powerful…isn’t it maddening how direct the emotion is in music, and how hard that immediacy is to capture in words? The Mozart I always hear in my head during the intense scenes I write is the Andante from Mozart’s 21.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-eLzao63I .

      But never in a million, zillion years could I replicate a fraction of it. Of course, neither could most composers, so I guess we’re not alone in bowing before Beethoven and Mozart.

  4. Sorry, Kathleen, I actually own Hiddles. Nice try, though. You can have the paintings. : )

    1. Kathleen Kathleen says:

      Oh, all right, Kristan. 😉 I hardly had room for him on the shelf with Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Day Lewis, Edward Norton and Ewan McGregor, anyhow. But don’t forget how smart TH is–and how he probably LOVES women who own great masterpieces.

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