Love and Passion in Their Time and Place

What is your least favourite thing about Facebook – the most popular social networking tool in existence? I would have to say, just barely beating the 12 engagements a week which are really just a reminder of how lonely I might be someday, it is undoubtedly the mushy, gushy, self-taken photos of a lip-locked couple. That’s nice, I’m happy for you, but do you really need to plaster it all over my newsfeed?

But when did a couple in love start to produce this shuttering, nearly vomit inducing feeling? Certainly artists from the 15th century and beyond were able to find beauty and romance in such imagery. How many of us have fawned over Rodin’s Eternal Idol (1889), Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787-1793), and basically any reproduction of Paolo and Francesca (I’m so glad those two crazy kids got together even if their tryst put them in Dante’s second circle of Hell)?

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, 1867.
Watercolour, gouache, and gum Arabic over pencil on two sheets of paper, 43.7 x 36.1 cm.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Looking at Rosetti’s Paolo and Francesca, I am both happy and nervous for them. I know Gianciotto is just waiting to catch them and that their lives will be cut short. But I feel the passion of their stolen kiss, the desire in their intertwined hands.

Francesco Hayez, The Kiss, 1859.
Oil on canvas, 110 x 88 cm.
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

This Risorgimento patriot says goodbye to his wife before going to war, they cannot be sure to see each other again. I want to look away, not because it makes me sick, but because I feel as though I’m intruding on a beautiful, tender moment shared between lovers.

Head over to the Nationalmuseum’s exhibition of Passions – Five Centuries of Art and the Emotions, on through 12 Aug 2012, to see romance at its best. And while you’re at it, pick up Love so the next time you feel the need to display your affection publicly you can first make sure it lives up to the standards of the greatest love imagery there is.

 

If physical passion is more your forte, check out these titles: The Encyclopaedia of Erotica, Erotic Fantasy, and In Praise of the Backside – all guaranteed to stir your imagination and tickle fancy.

-Le Lorrain Andrews

Author: Parkstone International

Parkstone International is an international publishing house specializing in art books. Our books are published in 23 languages and distributed worldwide. In addition to printed material, Parkstone has started distributing its titles in digital format through e-book platforms all over the world as well as through applications for iOS and Android. Our titles include a large range of subjects such as: Religion in Art Architecture Asian Art Fine Arts Erotic Art Famous Artists Fashion Photography Art Movements Art for Children