Whether it’s couples locked in a tender embrace or a still-life with sensuous qualities, classic oil paintings can have an enduring appeal. And throughout history, artists have used such works to capture the beauty and passion of love.

While the best of these richly colored masterpieces can inspire feelings of romance at any time of year, Valentine’s Day is a fitting time to revisit them.

Take, for instance, “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. An undeniable masterpiece from the Austrian’s “Golden Period,” the painting is at once both erotic and tender. Klimt was inspired by the style of Japanese mosaics and the universal appeal of romantic love.
“‘The Kiss’ epitomizes sentimental feelings of tenderness and love, and speaks to all generations of people,” said curator Franz Smola, curator at the Upper Belvedere museum in Vienna, as the gallery marked the 100th anniversary of Klimt’s death in 2018.
The painting demonstrates the artist’s signature gold leaf to dazzling effect. Seeing it in person at The Belvedere can be an emotional experience. It is a substantial work — far more imposing than visitors might anticipate, measuring just under six-feet by-six-feet. But even an online viewing can sweep you away.

Scroll through the gallery above to view “The Kiss” and nine other romantic oil paintings from art history.

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