The official title of this little portrait is "The Eternal Ideal," and it was inspired by Marion Zimmer Bradley's re-telling of the tale of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." The girl here was Pamina, the heroine of the story, described as innocent, good, and pale blonde. Blonde-ness (with deep blue, almost violet eyes) is a traditional standard of female beauty and goodness in traditional fantasy fiction. In the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, these sweet flaxen-haired girls served as angels, inspirations, and ideals which the male hero worshipped as well as desired. Only with the coming of the blonde sexpot or bad girl in the movies did the traditions change.
When I painted these angelic young ladies, I assumed that real people never looked this way. But today I saw a living example of her in the store where I work. She must have been about 13, standing with her mother and the shopping bags. I so wanted to draw or paint her portrait, dressed in an ethereal costume. I will just have to keep my memories of the eternal ideal come to life.
"The Eternal Ideal" is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 9", November 1985.