But what of the people who inspired them and often became the subject of these works, who were the muses of the 19th & 20th century greats?
As we celebrate love in all shapes and sizes this Valentine’s Day, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the most fruitful, inspiring artistic relationships of the last 200 years.
Friends or Lovers?
Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge were life-long friends, who shared both a deep personal understanding and appreciation of each other’s craft.
Klimt often painted Flöge, wearing her iconic dress designs, but whilst it’s speculated that it is Klimt and Flöge portrayed together in his most famous work ‘The Kiss’, it’s still unclear as to whether their relationship actually went further than strong friendship and companionship.
A Sister to the Brotherhood
William and Jane Morris were married in 1859. As an accomplished embroider, Jane worked alongside her husband, often translating his iconic designs into beautiful furnishings.
However, it is said that William was a cold husband – and Jane an unhappy wife. Being blessed with the ideals of Pre-Raphaelite beauty, she also posed as an artists' model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti, featuring in many of his works including the famous ‘Prosperpine’ and it is said the pair shared an intimate relationship.
This particular portrait contains an abundance of symbolism, including a pomegranate, symbolising captivity and marriage.
The Parisian Power Couple
Pioneering the Orphism movement, Sonia and Robert Delaunay were key figures in the Parisian avant-garde. As a multi-disciplinary abstract artist, with her work spanning fashion and set design, Sonia’s exploration of colour and medium gave her work astonishing depth and character.
She is reported to have said of her husband: "In Robert Delaunay I found a poet. A poet who wrote not with words but with colours."
A Creative Quartet
Margaret Macdonald and her sister met Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his friend Herbert MacNair at the Glasgow School of Art, having been introduced by the Headmaster on account of the similar style of their work. Before long, the quartet were creating collaborative work and displaying together in student exhibitions. Their connection was such that they became known locally as ‘The Four’.
Margaret’s work is highly regarded and her output prolific. On leaving the Glasgow School of Art, she continued to collaborate with her sister Frances, setting up an independent studio where they worked on anything from metal work to illustration.
Her marriage to Charles perpetuated this collaborative nature and her influence and input on decorative interiors within his projects is striking.
Celebrate your own 'Muse' - Say it with Silk
If you’re showing your affection to someone who inspires you this February, why not say it with silk? Our collection features luxurious silks and prints inspired by the greats, all of which can be gift-wrapped with a personal message - perfect for surprising a special someone!
Browse the full Klimt Collection
Biographical information taken from wikipedia.org and tate.org.uk