*from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (1949).
Image: (Wikipedia) “Love and Psyche or Cupid and Psyche is an 1817 painting by Jacques-Louis David, now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. It shows Cupid and Psyche. It was produced during David’s exile in Brussels, for the patron and collector Gian Battista Sommariva. On its first exhibition at the museum in Brussels, it surprised viewers with its realist treatment of the figure of Cupid.”
“The Oxford English Dictionary attributes the early uses of the phrase to Orlando Furioso, where breaking the mold means basically creating an excellent and beautiful work of nature that is made unique and unrepeatable when the mold is broken.
Natura il fece, e poi roppe la stampa.
(Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, canto 10, stanza 69.)
This is the goodly impe whom nature made, To shew her chiefest workmanship and skill, And after brake the mould against her will.
So it was a form of praise for the person so formed, that nature could form no one else like that person. The connection between beauty and uniqueness persisted for a long time. Again the OED:
1786 J. Burgoyne Heiress i. ii. 11 He cannot mistake her, for when she was form’d nature broke the mould.
So the original idea was that the person created was so exemplary that nature wouldn’t want to create another one. The focus was on creation and not the waste of a good mould…”