Romantic love in art, sculpture and clay



Louis-Jules-Trager-Adam and Eve vase

‘Adam and Eve’ – Louis Jules Trager, Sevres

Art Nouveau 1925


The Psyching of Cupid


The original story of Cupid and Psyche appeared in the 2nd century AD in a story called ‘Metamorphoses’ which was written by Platonicus. This was a tale of the struggle to overcome obstacles in love featuring Psyche {soul} and Cupid (desire). Eros, which is also a name for Cupid, had been appearing with Psyche via Greek art and sculpture since the 5th century BC. Other gods also featured with them including Venus, Amore, Mercury and Jupiter. The story was retold in poetry, drama, and opera through the ages and depicted widely in painting and sculpture inspiring many artists, especially after it reappeared during the Renaissance. Frollicing couples, courting couples, hopeless romantics, betrayal, infidelity, unrequited love mixed with joy, despair, elation, romantic trysts, love quests, separation, connection with doses of torment, pain and delirium. All the romatic cliches were on display.
Romances were typically based around themes such as the supernatural, wandering, exploration and discovery. They often featured exotic, fantastical locations with themes of transgression and redemption, loss and retrieval, exile and reunion. The story was popular on the spinners circuit (females on spinning wheels) and also a favourite with wandering minstrels.


Psyche admiring a sleeping Cupid sculpture

Psyche looking at Cupid sculpture



John Collier: The Death of Cleopatra (1890)


Some of these popular romantic tales and epics of the past had a strong emphasis that falling in love was fraught with danger and tragic consequences. Orpheus was so distraught at the loss of Eurydice that his emotionally charged songs made the gods and nymphs weep to the extent that she was eventually granted resurrection. He then went on to lose her again when bringing her back from the underworld, this time permanently. Cleopatra and Marc Antony was another famous tale of tragedy in love, both dying from a false communication of the others well being.. Rama had success in rescuing his kidnapped partner Sita from the demon Ravana in the Ramayana epic, but she had to throw herself on his funeral pyre to prove her loyalty, which had been questioned. Sir Lancelot, had to rescue Queen Genevieve from being burned at the stake for her adultery with him. This had weakened the rule of King Arthur and led to Lancelot ending his days as a lowly hermit and Guinevere became a nun at Amesbury where she died. Helen of Troy was reunited with King Menelaus in Homers Illiad but it took an army and a war to achieve this.
Cupid sometimes appeared blindfolded to convey the message that love is blind. Shiva, the Lord of Transcendence probably had the right idea when the Hindu cupid Kamdeva paid him a visit to make him infatuated with Parvati. He blasted him with a flame from his third eye due to Kamadeva’s arrow disturbing his meditation.


Bernard-Kapfe abstract cuddling lovers sculpture

Bernard Kapfe – Lovers



The Aesthetic genre at the turn of the 20th century rekindled the spirit of beauty and romance while Art Nouveau had a tendency to display numerous forlorn maidens and nymphs pining wistfully for a lover or in some sort of emotional suspension in a nature setting deep in a forest next to an enchanted pond. All the famous pottery companies in Europe – Zsolnay, Bohemian Amphora, Italian Capodimonte, Austrian Goldscheider, Royal Dux created pieces with a romantic aesthetic.
The French ceramicists Jean Mayodon, Edouard Cazaux, Rene Buthaud, Rene Crevel and Charles Catteau all flirted with romantic themes, and displayed their innate romantic flair in design and decoration, usually classically inspired in style while infused with Art Deco designs and Fauvist colours and freedom.
The love mood in Art Deco became more sophisticated and modern with liasons occurring in cafes or trendy gatherings. Love became more calculated and business like and less compulsive, but artists like Demetre Chiparus, Erte, Fasyral and Pierre le Faguays kept the romantic spirit churning.


Dante and Beatrice - Henry Holiday

‘Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità’, by Henry Holiday




Love saith concerning her: “How chanceth it

That flesh, which is of dust, should be thus pure?”

Then, gazing always, he makes oath: “Forsure,

This is a creature of God till now unknown.”

She hath that paleness of the pearl that’s fit

In a fair woman, so much and not more;

She is as high as Nature’s skill can soar;

Beauty is tried by her comparison.

Whatever her sweet eyes are turned upon,

Spirits of love do issue thence in flame,

Which through their eyes who then may look on them

Pierce to the heart’s deep chamber every one.

And in her smile Love’s image you may see;

Whence none can gaze upon her steadfastly.


..Dante Alighieri

La Vita Nuova



Meissen art nouveau vase with cupid motif

Meissen porcelain vase



Theodore-Riviere-sculpture of Sarah-Bernhardt-à-Carthage

Theodore Riviere sculpture of ‘Sarah Bernhardt à Carthage’




Cappy Thompson,-The Calling---painted-glass Mercury calling a sleeping woman

Cappy Thompson, ‘The Calling’




‘Seduction’ – Akio Takamori


Alejandra-Franco-Dancers-2013 - clay figurine of an eldery couple dancing

Alejandra Franco – ‘Dancers’         




Andre Methey-ceramic bowl

‘Devoted’ – Andre Methey




‘A Chinese love song’ – Marygold Print




‘Elation’  – Rosenthal Art Deco Porcelain Female Figure by D. Charol





Aristide Maillol - 1906-1908.Desire sculpture

‘Desire’ – Aristide Maillol – 1906-1908

Museum of Modern Art – New York



Art-Deco-Vase-Longwy-for-Pomona-Bon-Marché I woman dancing with a deer

Art Deco Vase Longwy – Pomona Bon Marché



Itzik-Ben-Shalom-Embracing-Couple - bronze abstract sculpture

Itzik Ben Shalom – ‘Embracing Couple’




Bertel-Thorvaldsen----Amor-and-Psyche relief art

Bertel Thorvaldsen – – ‘Amor and Psyche’

photo Maicar Forlag


Camille-VandenBerge,-Love-Struck, Ceramic buet of a girl with two birds on her hat

Camille VandenBerge – ‘Love Struck’




Edward Cauzaux white figural vase

Edouard Cazaux figural vase



Edourde-cazaux-vase with two nude figures in blue and white

Edouard Cazaux




Celestial Sun Moon Mosaic wall art



Clement-Massier---Sculptural-bowl,-1900 with nude figures

Clement Massier—Sculptural Art Nouveau lustreware bowl




Demetre-Chiparus-danicng-couple-female with a harlequin

‘Fancy Dress’ – Demetre Chiparus



Dreamer_Monica-Wyatt-seated abstract woman

‘Dreamer’  Monica Wyatt




Edourd-Cazaux-nude white lady with two doves motif

Edouard Cazaux



Eduard-Ghazaryan-Lovers ceramic sculpture

Eduard Ghazaryan – ‘Lovers’



Louise Burgeois. ‘The Couple’  metal sculpture

Ekeberg Park, Oslo, Norway


Delamarre Raymond-1890-1986-fr-Persee and Andromede

‘Persee and Andromede’ – Delamarre Raymond




Elliott-Erwitt-Magnum-Photos A couple reflected thru a rear vision mirror

Elliott Erwitt

Magnum Photos




Etruscan-Vulci wall art relief

Etruscan wall relief of couple – Vulci





‘Kiss in Venice’ – futurist Fortunato Depero




Frances_MacDonald_-_Ophelia_1898 recliing lady in lavender dress

Frances MacDonald – ‘Ophelia’

(click to expand) 1898



angels in flight - Ima-Naroditskaya-

Ima Naroditskaya


Intimate Encounter- WonLee 2006 32 inches height ISABELLA GARRUCHO FINE ART

‘Intimate Encounter’ – WonLee 2006 32 inches height





Jean-Mayodon baluster vase with naked figures

Twin handles baluster vase with nude figures – Jean Mayodon



Joe-Joseph---Lovers---lemon-opal carving

‘Lovers’ – Joe Joseph

Carved from lemon opal



jeremy-james-ceramics two white owls

Jeremy James ceramics  – Owl pair




Kim Mosley; Stone, Sculpture 'Entangled Passion' - carved orange

Kim Mosley –  ‘Entangled Passion’



Fifties German vase - woman on the shore meeting a boatman

Meeting the Boatman – German vase 50’s



Limoges ceramic figurine of a romatic couple

Romantic couple figurine – Limoges




‘Sea Sprites’ – Louis Chalon (French 1866-1940)

circa 1895




‘Love changes everything’ vase – Jenny Orchard, AUS

earthenware with glazes and enamels, 47 x 34 x 38cm



love-playing-on-a-shamisen - seated Oriental couple - Larisa-Churkina

‘Love playing on a shamisen’ – Larisa Churkina




Craquelure vase with female mandolinist motif - Rene Bathaud

Rene Buthaud female mandolinist vase


 The Kiss, Lyuben Pashkulski

The Kiss –  Lyuben Pashkulski




Cappy Thompson-painted-glass - sitting couple

Cappy Thompson painted glass panel




Wood Carving Lovers-in-a-Pavillion,-17th-century-TamilNadu

‘Lovers in a Pavillion’, 17th century Tamil Nadu




Love frolic clock



Sevres vase - man departing on a horse

‘Goodbye’ – Sevres vase



Meissen Pantalone and Columbine-1740 Photo Maggie Nimkin Modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler,

Meissen figurine ‘Pantalone and Columbine’ – Modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler


Photo Maggie Nimkin



 Haegar Pottery Statue 'Lovers',

Mid Century Modern Haegar Pottery Statue ‘Lovers’

20″ Tall




Nairi-Safaryan wood carving of a gilr playing the violin

Female violinist wood carving – Nairi Safaryan




One With the Universe by Martin Eichinger at Quent Cordair Fine Art The Finest in Romantic RealismOne With the Universe

‘One With the Universe’ by Martin Eichinger

Quent Cordair Fine Art





Outdoor sculpture by Auguste Ottin – ‘Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea’




Penny-Byrne sculpture

‘Love is a Battlefield’ – Penny Byrne, Australia




‘Pierrot and Columbine’ dancing figurine



René-Crevel Jazz Age roaring twenties vase

Potiche Roaring Twenties – René Crevel




Cupid and Psyche - 16th Century sculpture - embracing lovers

Cupid and Psyche – 16th Century sculpture




‘Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss’ by Antonio Canova; group in marble . (1787)




Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry Rendezvous of lovers

Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry  ‘Rendezvous of lovers’



René Buthaud (France 1886-1987) vase, gilded glazed earthenware, 1930.

Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris.




art Nouveau Zsolnay_lovers-eosin-luster-vase

Zsolnay Lovers eosin lustre vase




Shiva-&-Parvati wall carving

Shiva & Parvati




René-Buthaud gilded highl;ights vase

René Buthaud (France 1886-1987) vase, gilded glazed earthenware, 1930.

Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris.



Dancing Maenad and a Satyr Etruscan,

Dancing Maenad and a Satyr – Etruscan, Terracotta and pigment

500 – 475




Demetre Chiparus Russian Dancers




A pilgrim reunitses with his lover - Frank Bernard Dicksee - The End of the Quest

Frank Bernard Dicksee – ‘The End of the Quest’



Pauline-Wateau enraptured female sculpture

‘Enrapture'[‘  female sculpture – Pauline Wateau





Mid Century ‘Joined at the Hip’ modernist candlestick holders




large Burniing man Festival sculpture called The Embrace

‘The Embrace’ – The Pier Group

Burning Man  2014



Theodor-Lundborg-for-Royal-Copenhagen-Kissing Couple sculpture

Theodor Lundborg for Royal Copenhagen Monumental ‘Waves and Rock’ Porcelain Figural Sculpture

ca. 1897


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