The most popular medium found in global collections is painting, which is found in 83%…
The idea of love has been one of the most prominent themes portrayed in art throughout history. So, as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we are taking you on a journey through some of the most famous paintings about love, passion, and romance. Some are familiar, others classical, and some even a little absurd, but all of these artworks capture the essence of love as well as all the different forms that it can take.
1. Henri Toulouse Lautrec, In bed – The Kiss, 1892
Painter Toulouse-Lautrec captures the very sense of love and passion in this 1892 painting, as he portrays two women in a deep embrace. It is within these moments adorned by the simple routines of life, where love is hidden. However, Toulouse-Lautrec is able to uncover and depict in this scene ‘the very epitome of sensual delight’, as he described. The couple tangled in a passionate embrace captures love in its raw form as well as a sense of intimacy and connection that speak for itself.
2. Marc Chagall, The Birthday, 1915
This piece is actually a depiction of Chagall’s birthday. Not only is he celebrating this but also his relationship with his soon-to-be-wife of the time, Bella, who was also his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life. This expressionist painting, which has been on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is one filled with joy, giddiness, as well as a whimsical feeling and a sense of gravity-defying bliss that so often accompanies love.
3. Pablo Picasso, Figures on a Beach, 1931
This piece is a remarkable abstract portrayal of passion running wild. It was painted at Picasso’s French Riviera holiday home and was probably inspired by his relationship with a 19-year-old model. The painting incorporates various perverse Surrealist symbolism and showcases a passionate entanglement of a kissing couple. Here the artist tells us that love and passion are not always contained in the domestic sphere.
4. René Magritte, Les Amants, 1928
Painted as part of Magritte’s series “Les Amants,” the piece has many layers of meaning. The couple in question are sharing in a passionate act of locking lips, and at the same time, they share a frustrating moment as their covered faces keep them separate from each other. Are there secrets they’re keeping from each other – or from the outside world that prevents them from fully engaging? Here, Magritte makes us wonder about this love affair and plenty to think about romantic love.
5. Edouard Manet, At Father Lathuille’s, 1879
Edouard Manet was a talented artist. In this painting, he was able to evoke the emotion of love, lust, and flirtiness felt by the young man as he looks at the woman and wraps his arm behind her chair. As it is showcased, this piece tells a story of young love, which starts with a conversation deep in interest and desire. This 1879 piece was painted at the Pere Lathuille restaurant, in France. Which was actually owned by the young man’s father, also known as M. Gauthier-Lathuille. With luxuriant greenery and beautiful architecture around, the composition illustrates a wealthy period for the French.
6. Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait as a Tehuana, 1940-43
In this piece, Frida Kahlo captures the element of passionate love affairs in a deeply moving way. This beautiful self-portrait conveys her love for the famous Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Through this colorful painting, Frida expresses her desire to keep loving and thinking about her lover, even though he has betrayed her with other women. We can see how she painted a miniature portrait of him on her brow which could perhaps indicate obsessive love. Frida has also presented herself wearing a Mexican traditional Tehuana costume because Diego loved this type of clothing.
7. Suzuki Harunobu, Two Lovers Beneath an Umbrella in the Snow, 1762–1772
The portrait of great love can often come with a sense of melancholy, sadness, and loss. This Edo-period woodblock print is both romantic and poignant and depicts a couple walking together in the snow. Here we can appreciate the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi, the beauty of simplicity and stillness. The presence of the umbrella creates a feeling of intimacy. Many believe the couple is sharing a moment of grief and sorrow.
From fleeting moments to idyllic unions, artworks of love often offer an insight into various cultures and reflect how perspectives on love have evolved over the centuries. All these brilliant artists have expressed through different techniques, mediums, and colors the power and mystery of love. Their love lives in all of these paintings. Happy Valentine’s Day!