Throughout the ages, love has always been a popular theme in all forms of art, ranging from writings to sculptures, in paintings and performance and beyond. In this post, we’ll be looking at examples of love in paintings. In just about any time period, whether it be early AD or the high renaissance, and any region, Western or Asian, themes of love can be found in paintings. In the renaissance, it was common to paint scenes that captured moments of love found in poems or mythological stories, such as the various Greek myths or the Bible. Let’s examine a few examples of such symbols.
One of the common symbols of love found in Greek paintings is the Greek goddess, Aphrodite (Roman Venus). Venus is the goddess of love, beauty, sex, and fertility, and this is an obvious example of this theme. Depictions of Venus in paintings can be found early on in history. Once such early example can be seen in this painting “Venus on Seashell”, from the Casa di Venus in Pompeii, in AD 79.
Venus was also often found in Titian’s paintings, an artist famous for his lack of lines. One of his more famous paintings of Venus would be “Venus of Urvino” (1538),
and oil painting depicting a nude Venus lounging on a sofa. Titian’s use of Venus inspired many future painters to follow suit, such as Edouard Manet, who painted “Olympia” in 1863.
Venus isn’t the only Greek/Roman god used in this way. Eros (Roman Cupid), the god of desire, attraction, and affection, is also commonly found in paintings about love. In 1889, William Adolphe Bouguereau completed his painting “Cupid and Psyche as Children”.
This was in reference to the mythological story about Cupid and Psyche’s loves, their struggles, and ultimate marriage.
Kisses were another common symbol of love, for obvious reasons. Perhaps one of the most well-known instances of a kiss in painting (and one of my personal favorites) can be seen in Gustav Klimpt’s “The Kiss” (1907, oil painting).
This was a painting he drew based on himself and his girlfriend at the time. I believe it to be on the most popular paintings about love, as it can be seen hanging in many houses around the world. The painting uses many bright colors, flowers, etc, and really fills one with that fuzzy feeling of being in love.Just as Klimpt did in “The Kiss”, many painters throughout time have painted their lovers as a way to embrace the theme of love. This trend can be seen around the world. In 1767 Japan, Suzuki Harunobu completed “Lovers in the Snow Under an Umbrella” a Nishiki-e Woodblock print.
This painting depicted a couple sharing an umbrella, in a certain pose called Aiaigasa, which is symbolic of love and intimacy in Japan. Another random example can be found in the west, in Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” (1936). This painting depicted one of Picasso’s many mistresses, Dora Maar. As she was his mistress for quite some time (1936-1944), he painted her many times, but this is probably his most famous rendition. To Picasso, Dora was always seen as a weeping woman, and he painted her in tortured forms such as this, not from “sadism and not from pleasure, but from obeying a vision that was forced on himself.”
love is portrayed in so many different forms today, movies, plays, games, stories in books, drama, art, and the list goes on. it just proves how we humans just can’t live without some kind of form of love.