Symbols of Love In Art History [Modern & Ancient Meanings]
Art is often a medium that humans use as a means of describing emotions. Love is perhaps one of the most powerful emotions that humans can feel. Thus, it's no surprise that countless works of art are centered on love.
So, what are some of the popular symbols that artists in history used to portray love? Well, that's what this article is all about.
Though each religion has its unique connection to apples, they all have a typical representation of the fruit as a sign of desire, plenty, or love. The apple is a common representation of romance in Greek mythology.
Gaia, the goddess of nature, is claimed to have given apples to Hera on their wedding day as a symbol of their everlasting love and togetherness.
As far back as the seventh century B.C., apples were traditionally shared by the couple during weddings in the belief that doing so would ensure a long and fruitful marriage.
To prevent illness and premature aging, numerous Norse mythology characters ate apples straight from Inn, the goddess of beauty and youthfulness. Furthermore, the blossoming of an apple tree is a sign of undying love in Chinese culture.
The Claddagh is a popular motif for Claddagh, but it is also used in other forms of jewelry. The Claddagh symbol is inspired by an Irish folktale. Richard, a young guy from a hamlet outside of Galway, was taken by pirates while fishing with his family. As a result, he was sold into slavery against his will.
This legend has it that Richard was forced to work as a goldsmith’s apprentice. Every day he would steal a gold speck to make a ring for Margaret, his love back home. The story says that Richard put away enough gold specks to make a ring, with the intention of one day giving it to his beloved.
Once he escaped, he returned with a stunning ring for Margaret, who gratefully took it. Each of the three parts of the Claddagh represents something. The crown symbolizes fidelity and loyalty. Joining hands is a symbol of a close relationship.
The arrow-wielding figure of Cupid has come to be identified almost exclusively with Valentine's Day. He is mostly portrayed as a young boy with a bow and heart-shaped arrowheads. He then uses the arrows to make people fall madly in love.
According to Greek mythology, Cupid was known as Eros and was Aphrodite's son. In Roman mythology, he was then known as Cupid, the son of Mars and Venus. For most of history, artists often portray him with blindfolds to symbolize "love is blind."
In Western culture, doves represent peace and love. Doves, with their charming cooing and bowing courtship rituals, have come to represent loyalty since they remain faithful to their lifelong partners.
Two doves flying together is a common symbol of undying love. Doves were considered to be sacred creatures in both Roman and Greek mythology. Hence, many images of the goddess of love incorporated doves.
There are many diverse cultural interpretations of the harp, but it is generally accepted as an early symbol of love. The harp serves as an intermediary between the two realms of heaven and earth in Celtic belief.
In Iceland and Norway, the harp is seen as a ladder, with its strings representing a path to greater depths of love. The harp's soothing, flowing tone has also been widely employed in romantic ballads.
In the Hindu religion, this fragrant white blossom has great significance as a symbol of undying love. The Himalayan foothills are revered as a holy ground in India. It is from there that the jasmine symbolism is said to have spread. In Hindu art, the divine is often depicted wearing garlands of jasmine, whose pure white petals are a symbol of beauty.
A fertility god in Native American religion, Kokopelli is also a gifted musician. For thousands of years, he has been portrayed in ceramics, cave art, and mythology, typically wearing a plumed hat and playing the flute.
Kokopelli's love flute was supposedly used by men to court women before being destroyed once the couple tied the knot. Kokopelli has multiple meanings, some of which include union, affection, and procreation.
The love knot is a timeless symbol of undying affection because of its ever-looping pattern. This design also symbolizes the joining of two hearts and minds. The love knot first appears in art from ancient Rome in the third century B.C. Around the year 450 A.D., Christian artists began using the motif as a decorative motif for manuscripts.
In East Asian cultures, especially in China and Japan, the maple leaf has long been a symbol of romantic love. Maple leaves symbolize the sweetness and beauty of love, much as the maple tree's sap is sweet.
The leaves of the Maple tree are a popular subject for Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Ukiyo-e, a style of Japanese art, is distinguished by its reliance on paintings and woodblock prints. It gained popularity during Japan's Edo period when artists of the time sought to evoke a sensory experience through their work.
The goddess of love, Aphrodite, is often represented by many symbols, including shells and conch shells. A variety of seashells has been metaphorically used to describe the protective nature of love. It also emphasized that the hard shell protects the pearl, representing something beautiful.
Roses were sacred to the goddesses of love, Aphrodite and Venus, in ancient Greek and Roman culture. For as long as people have known, roses represent admiration and affection. Roses come in various colors, each of which has its special significance."Joyful love" is symbolized by the yellow rose.
The red rose symbolizes passionate love. The pink rose signifies undying love. The white rose symbolizes purity and innocence.
Of course, there are other ways artists have portrayed love throughout history. However, some of the common and enduring ones are listed above.