Does a picture paint a thousand words? Recently I blogged about some of my favourite romantic novels (last part was here) and today I thought I’d share a list of my favourite romantic works of art. And which do you think have the greatest emotional impact – the paintings or the novels? Can art really speak louder than words?
I’d started thinking about romance and emotion in art whilst working on the draft of a romantic novel. I wanted to create a scene in which the heroine expresses her growing feelings for the hero through the paintings she chooses for him. It’s my personal opinion that a great work of art can convey much more emotionally than a great piece of writing – although perhaps I’m just in awe of great artists, since I’m so singularly useless myself with a paintbrush. If I pick up a book and start to read, eventually I find myself trying to work out how the author has created a certain mood or effect. On the other hand, when I look at a work of art, I’m like the proverbial blank canvas – I literally have no idea how that work of art has been created and so I’m forced to let the emotion in the painting speak for itself, without being side-tracked by analysing it.
If you can recommend any piece of romantic writing that has the same stunning, sensuous and emotional impact of the pieces of art I’ve chosen below, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your opinion.
You may think Rodin’s The Kiss an obvious choice for a romantic line-up, but I’ve been lucky enough to see this sculpture in real life. My written description would nowhere near do it justice, so I’ll just say if you get the opportunity, please go and see it for yourself. That cold marble actually appears warm as real flesh.
Another Kiss, another passionate depiction. This time Francesco Hayez:
Edward Hopper’s Room in New York. I know, know – there doesn’t seem much emotion between these two, but I don’t care – there’s a world of romance behind the woman’s abstracted longing. She looks like she’d leap straightaway into those manly shirt-sleeved arms if he’d just look up. I’m absolutely convinced the guy’s just about to put his paper down and look at her. (This is my blog, and I’m going to give one of Edward Hopper’s paintings a happy ending for once.)
Marc Chagall’s Joy:
I love Chagall, I love the colours and the flying figure in the background of this painting. Here’s a quote from Chagall, which is a nice enough as a quote but his paintings definitely say it better than words: “In our life there is a single colour, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the colour of love.”
And now my final choice, and on pretty much everyone else’s list of top romantic paintings, is another The Kiss – this time Gustav Klimt’s. This painting is in a gallery in Vienna. I’ve never seen it, but in real life it must be mind-blowing. In the romance novel I’m working on I try to give a description of the two figures in this painting, but each time I give up in disgust at my lack of skill. I would love to read a novel that’s as sensuous as this painting.So, art or literature? Which do you think has the greater emotional impact? If you disagree with my thoughts, or if you have any personal favourite romantic works you think I’d enjoy seeing, please let me know! I love to hear from people.