Art has always been driven and inspired by the great human passions and emotions. Feelings like rage, sorrow, awe, and of course love, are the primary inspirations for some of art history’s greatest masterpieces. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most romantic masterpieces every painted and sculpted. We hope the sweeping passions of love in these images will inspire you to get into the spirit of the romantic season!


"The Kiss" – Gustav Klimt

Another iconic kiss, Gustav Klimt’s golden image is a painting that has seen a surge of popularity in prints and representations in recent years. The slightly exaggerated and boneless forms, as well as the detailed geometric patterns serve as attractive décor, but the focus of the painting is the expression of contented amorousness on the face of the kiss’s recipient.


"Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss" – Antonio Canova


This Neoclassical masterpiece shows a piece of Classical mythology that narrates the god of love, Cupid, awakening the human girl Psyche with a tender kiss. It is hard to believe the soft forms are cold marble when one views the languid way that Psyche’s tired limbs reach up to stroke her lover’s hair, with the details of flesh and fabric intricately carved by the Italian master Antonio Canova. The tale ultimately ends happily, with Cupid and Psyche marrying before an assembly of gods.


"Pygmalion and Galatea" – Jean-Leon Gerome


This painting from 1890 also represents a tale of love and romance from antiquity. In the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the sculptor Pygmalion wishes for a wife as beautiful as his artistic creation, so the goddess Aphrodite transforms his masterpiece into a living woman, Galatea. In this painting, the two lovers embrace as Galatea begins to emerge from her ivory lifelessness into the romantic heroine of Pygmalion’s fantasy.


"Springtime" – Pierre August Cot


The realism in this 1873 French oil painting is particularly striking in the representation of soft light that falls on the couple in question. The viewer feels almost like an intruder viewing this private moment shared by the happy young couple, who seem intoxicated by their first taste of love.


"The Kiss" – Auguste Rodin

Another sculpture, this famous piece of art depicts two lovers from Dante’s Divine Comedy, doomed to wander through the underworld for all eternity. Despite this, Rodin’s ecstatic lovers don’t look particularly troubled at the prospect. In fact, their amorous embrace seems to radiate a passion that defies the cold stone medium of the sculpture.


All images Public Domain, sourced from the Wikimedia Commons.