Love is in the Art

 In MOA Features

Guest Post by Ellen Ford, MOA Marketing Intern

Love is one of the most oft-depicted subjects in art. Whether it’s a wedding scene, a scandalous tryst, or innocent affection, each century has multitudes of love-themed art to offer. So which ones come out on top? It’s hard to tell, but here are some favorites from the past three centuries.

20th Century

Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1976

Robert Indiana (1928-2018), LOVE, 1967, screenprint, 33 15/16 x 33 15/16 inches. Collection of the MOMA. © 2019 Morgan Art Foundation Ltd. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

A simple design. An ‘L’ and an ‘O’ on top of a ‘V’ and an ‘E.’ Many versions of Indiana’s work have been created and displayed around the world – including here at the MOA. It’s an image that has been sold by the millions over the years. The composition of the four letters communicates a message that is as universal as the language of art. It was originally designed as a Christmas card and grew immensely in popularity from there. Want to see why? Come see it in sculpture form on the third floor of the MOA.









19th Century

Renoir, Dance in the Country

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Dance in the Country, 1883, oil on canvas, 71 x 35 inches. Collection of the Musée d’Orsay.

Renoir has depicted a perfectly romantic scene – the remains of a shared meal in the background, a dance so lively it has knocked the gentleman’s hat to the ground and a woman’s charming smile to accompany it all. The smile belongs to Renoir’s future wife – Aline Charigot. The painting invites the viewers to join in the celebration and dance with the same amount of spontaneity and romance the couple exudes.










Corinthian Maid, Joseph Wright of Derby

Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), “The Corinthian Maid,” c.1734, oil on canvas, 41.8 x 51.4 inches. National Gallery of Art.

18th Century

This delicate scene depicts Dibutades, the daughter of a potter in Corinth, and her sleeping lover. The lover is set to embark on a perilous journey outside the city. As he sleeps, Dibutades traces his silhouette on the wall so her father can create a clay relief of the outline for her to remember her lover by. It’s a heart-warming depiction of the classic Greek tale that has viewers rooting for the lover’s safe return.


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