Love in today’s time is associated with aromatic candles, rose petal filled spas, little black dresses, booking hotel suites, hot air balloon rides, wine tasting tours, heart shaped dark chocolates, strawberries and champagne, candle light dinners by the beach, and for that matter even watching ‘50 shades of Grey’ somehow fits the bill!
However, long ago, art was one of the most valuable ways of expressing one’s love to each other. Art helped to depict the strongest of emotions like jealousy, rage, lust, sexuality in purest of forms, blending together reality and imagination from scenes the artists either witnessed or experienced in their real life.
Romantic art or ‘art with a heart’ in fact spread like wildfire through most Europe and thereafter entrapped USA too! Romantic art has never been serene, it has always been wild with energy and emotions blown into works by artists in proportions that would move any ordinary person into a deep sensation of wants, desires and passion. There are many art masterpieces that have been influenced by love, listed below are works that would move you, inspire you or just cheer you in ways you never imagined before.
- The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton
What is love without tragedy? Truest of true loves are hardly untouched by tragedy. This painting finds it’s inspiration in a Danish Ballad depicting the ill fated romance of Hallelil and Hildebrand. The scene captures the final embrace of the princess and one of her twelve bodyguards, who had fallen in love with each other but her father disapproved, finding it as an unsuitable match and he ordered his seven sons to kill the bodyguard. Hildebrand was one of the best knights and he killed Hallelil’s father and her brothers but she intervened to try to save the youngest brother. In the end Hildebrand died of his wounds and Hellelil died because of heartbreak.
The scene in the painting is the moment right before the violence. It shows how Hildebrand is holding Hallelil’s hand and smelling it, thereafter kissing it one last time, and she is grief struck knowing that this is the last moment of bodily touch she will ever have with him.
Be it the small opening of light above the staircase, or the fallen flowers close to Halleli’s feet, the painting is so quiet and yet the viewer can imagine the pain, love and plethora of emotions depicted in the painting which displays sadness to the most common of people untrained to the viewing of art masterpieces.
- La belle dame sans merci by Sir Frank Dicksee
What is it that we feel for the femme fatale of the world? We know something is so bad that it almost starts to feel good and then there’s no escape. Much like the world of love that entrances us, captivates our hearts and at times shatters the heart into million pieces that can never be fixed together.
Frank Dicksee’s ‘La belle dame sans merci’ which translates into ‘The beautiful woman without mercy’ is a painting with it’s inspiration in the ballad by the poet John Keats, of the same title.
The ballad is set in ethereal surrounding where the Knight meets the fairy like woman and is entrapped by her beauty. The knight is convinced that this beautiful woman has also fallen in love with him and says ‘She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, and manna dew, And sure in language strange she said— “I love thee true.” ‘ As a consequence of this fast romance, he gives his horse to her and she kisses him to sleep, from which he never wakes again. He dies at the hand of this fair maiden. This is the very scene that is depicted in the painting by Frank Dicksee. She is wearing a garland on her head giving her a fairy like quality with a floral halo on her head, her last look at the knight is of the love that she has perhaps faked to him. The moment captured is possibly right after the kiss of death that she plants on the knight, which can be seen in the way his arms have been positioned almost to indicate the fall of the knight that followed thereafter.
- The painter’s honeymoon by Lord Frederic Leighton
Love is not about just being on the receiving end but also on how much you are willing to give. The mutual admiration of one another and even respect for each other’s work has to be a constant factor in every romantic relationship.
This painting shows how the painter is engrossed in his work yet is sharing his work with his beloved, and the expressions together with emotions, reflected on both their faces show how much his work means to the painter and how much interest the woman actually has in his work. The love exuded as a result with excellent light play is an incredibly dominating feature of this painting. It’s a scene of two lovers together, enjoying each others’ company tremendously.
- Love, love will tear us apart again by Victoria Lucas and Richard William Wheater
Where there is love there is heart break. Where there is heart break there is often creativity? Creativity , the faithful mistress whose shoulder you would cry on, love and to everyone’s horror, move in with. These amazing installations moved me, that too piercingly so, with just words and neon lights. Incredibly so is this amalgamation where art meets music. This is a quote from one of the best love songs by Lucas and Wheater.
- The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive by Rob Montgomery
This work by Montgomery has been best explained by the man himself ‘made from recycled sunlight—the sculpture recycles sunlight to illuminate itself, as a metaphor for what we do when we remember someone we love’. The meaning drawn out of this is very simple and straight forward, which is that it is not easy to forget the one that you have once loved, in fact it is impossible. We keep the ones we love, alive, with the memories shared, both good and bad, promises broken, hearts replaced and all these memories are under the sun, growing on to you each waking hour, waiting for their chance to be illuminated at perhaps the very next turn you take, or the next song you hear, or the person you just met.
ART FOR PUBLIC’S HEART
- Love Sculpture by Robert Indiana
En route to Philadelphia Art Museum one can’t miss this phenomenal Love sculpture by Robert Indiana. The buildings in the background show Philadelphia Art Museum. This word in itself is a positive affirmation to remind the ones who pass it by, for a moment , how powerful and beautiful the word colored in Red is! This is truly romantic to say the least.
- Engagement by Dennis Oppenheim
This is one of the most powerful series of sculptures with great depth and meaning. The sculpture depicting two diamond rings is installed in various places such as Sunset Beach, Vancouver, Canada, Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, San Diego, California etc The sculpture at Sunset Beach is 30 feet tall, it’s interpretation is largely based on the meaning that “marriage requires a balance between two people with different interests, tastes and backgrounds” and represents the “dichotomy of marriage, expressing the romantic and the melancholy”.
- The meeting place by Paul Day
It’s a 29.53 feet tall bronze statue in St. Pancras railway station London. Paul Day is an English sculptor who has a French wife. This reference is there in most of his works. This sculpture in itself is an embrace between Paul and Catherine, metaphorically representing St. Pancras’ role as a rail link between England and France.
Not hard to say, that this world is a beautiful and romantic place to live in! Make the most of it, this Valentine’s Day, and do try to add some art to your Valentine’s Day this time around, even if it means a small DIY or a tiny sketch for your beloved!