I've spent some time looking at love through the prism of paintings. It has revealed how artists throughout the ages have captured love, in its many shades, both its pleasures and its pains, as well as the very many varieties of love – from the romantic to the platonic.
Paintings are filled with the traditional symbols and imagery of love, from Cupid to hearts to red roses galore, but there are also some more unusual expressions.
As the great artists well knew, The course of true love never runs smooth and many paintings depict love gone awry. There is Sickly Sweet Love. There is Love Betrayed. There is Disappointed Love. There is Love the Avenger. There is Amore on the Rocks. But there is also hope that what has been damaged may be healed, such as Lost Love Found.
Love has long been portrayed in myth and literature and many such love stories and mythical figures of love find their way into art.
There is love all around the world, from Love on the Costa del Sol to Curacao Lovers. There is love at great heights – Alpine Love – and love at depths – The Valley of Love, Hendon, Sunderland. Love also seems to make its own place, such as in the surreal Forest of Love.
There is not only romantic and sexual love on display but a whole array of other forms of love by turns joyful and sorrowful. There is Paternal Love. There is Maternal Love (Sorrow) and somewhat happier, Mater et Filius. There is Filial Love. There is Friendship. There is Love among the Nations.
How to express love? There are many paintings of love letters (from Her First Love Letter to Love Letter to a Valentine's message evident in St Valentine's Morn). But other paintings capture the complexities of depicting this state, such as The Language of Love.
The dove has long been associated with love, as well as peace, and it flutters throughout paintings, including Woman with Doves. There is also, of course, the symbol of lovebirds such as in Girl With Lovebirds.