I first saw this painting by Ferdinand Knopff titled "Des Caresses", 1896, on the cover of a book called "Jocasta's Children" which I read 15 years ago. I was absolutely fascinated and would interrupt my reading every few pages to gaze at it. Because of the book's subject, I see this as the image of a (doting and fierce) mother and son, even today. Maybe the artist even intended it to be.
At the time, I was reading a lot of psychoanalytic theory and women's studies while preparing to apply to the Academy of Fine Arts, and used the image as a model for my own paintings of atypical couples. There was the Garden of Eden with Adam tempting Eve with the apple, a monk and a woman in the desert, and Darth Vader and a naked woman in a sealed room. They were tacky as hell and badly executed and certainly not the reason for my getting into art school. Probably, I was also working through some love issues while wielding the brush. I don't even know where those awful paintings are anymore, but when I see "Des Caresses" today, an unusual relationship or two spring to mind again in a good way.
Are there images that stay with you forever too, that when you see them, bring back all sorts of emotions and associations from when you first encountered them?