Oh, love, love, love… we haven’t heard the last of it yet! In the history of art, love’s essence is a never-ending source of inspiration for artists. In all its forms, the first turmoil begins perhaps during a row with a loved one, during a countryside walk or a moment of intimacy. We take a look at the top ten artworks that celebrate love!

#1 The Waltz (1889 – 1905), Camille Claudel

The Waltz Camille Claudel
The Waltz (1889 – 1905), Camille Claudel

The Waltz is undoubtedly the best-known work of the young Camille Claudel and is in every way a moving depiction of one-way love. Her chaotic relationship with Rodin was an endless source of inspiration and this sculpture glorifies a breaking point. Claudel, who was passionately in love with the man who had taught her everything, shows us a pair of dancers so swept up in the dance that they lose their balance.

#2 Springtime (1873), Pierre Auguste Cot

Springtime Pierre Auguste Cot
Springtime (1873), Pierre Auguste Cot / Pierre Auguste Cot [Public domain]

Two enthralled lovers sit together on a swing. The season of love has called on Pierre Auguste Cot! Deep in a rich forest and abundant flora, the two beings enjoy a moment of calm away from prying eyes…

#3 Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville (1950), Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville Robert Doisneau
Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville (1950), Robert Doisneau

Seen: two lovers in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris! What appears to be a moving midday scene turns out to be not all that spontaneous… Apparently Robert Doisneau had spotted the two drama students (who were nonetheless a real couple) and specifically asked them to play out the scene for a magazine shoot. Françoise and Jacques received 500F at the time for this now-so-famous kiss.

#4 The Stolen Kiss (1788), Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The Stolen Kiss Jean-Honoré Fragonard
The Stolen Kiss (1788), Jean-Honoré Fragonard

The ultimate scene of romance… a young man pulls a young woman into his arms to steal a kiss. She doesn’t resist but does not seem entirely reassured either. Might she be afraid of getting caught?

#5 Untitled (1982), Keith Haring

Untitled, Keith Haring
Untitled (1982), Keith Haring

In this work, Keith Haring shows us a clear symbol of love! The feeling is found in many his artworks. This is an unequivocal representation of gay love and, more generally, universal love. The heart is celebrating, the two figures moving energetically, as though carried away by the euphoria of their feelings. The outlines are clear and direct, in the thick black lines for which the young street artist was so well-known.

#6 The Kiss (1859), Francisco Hayez

The Kiss Francisco Hayez
The Kiss (1859), Francisco Hayez / Francisco Hayez [Public domain]

A very famous masterpiece in Italy, this painting from Hayez portrays a moment of passion between two young lovers who seem to be about to leave one another. In a medieval setting, the man kisses his ladylove, one foot on a step. Might he be about to go? The shadow approaching in the bottom left of the picture creates a feeling of unease… imminent danger or simple happenstance?

#7 The Embrace (1917), Egon Schiele

The Embrace Egon Schiele
The Embrace (1917), Egon Schiele

Now we dive into the private life of Egon Schiele, who reveals a self-portrait of himself with his wife Edith. Lying on a crumpled white bedsheet, the two lovers share a special moment. In this poignant love scene, the artist has not neglected to include illusions and symbolism. Indeed, the pose has a slight resemblance to the couple seen in The Kiss by Klimt. Schiele had studied the artwork in detail and highly admired the Viennese master of symbolism. And what about the way Edith is holding her fingers, remind you of anything?

#8 The Bed (1892), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

The Bed Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
The Bed (1892), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec / Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec [Public domain]

Toulouse-Lautrec immerses us in a very tender and intimate scene between two satiated and sleepy young prostitutes. It’s almost too evocative! This painting was one in a series of four works, including In Bed and In Bed: The Kiss.

#9 The Arnolfini Portrait (1434), Jan van Eyck

The Arnolfini Portrait Jan van Eyck
The Arnolfini Portrait (1434), Jan van Eyck

Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife have donned their finest outfits for this special day! The rich Italian merchant takes his place beside his wife, who is dressed for the occasion in an elegant green dress. The scene is set in a bridal chamber, out of sight. A doubt lingers: is the young wife with child? Only a small number of guests are lucky enough to attend the event, the small dog in the foreground and of course… the artist himself! Here Van Eyck has had a stroke of genius and incorporated himself in the scene using the mirror behind the couple.

#10 Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888), Van Gogh

Starry Night Over the Rhône Van Gogh
Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888), Van Gogh

The couple in the bottom right of the painting take a walk under the magnificent starry sky. Light’s reflection in water was a great passion of Van Gogh, who was enthralled by the night-time and its infinite possibilities. The scene seems peaceful, the atmosphere serene. And yet, walking along the water’s edge, the lovers are very isolated from the rest of the scene. Are they really all alone?

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