A traveler's guide to passion-filled art and its eroticism.
“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.” - Auguste Rodin
The concepts of intimacy, sexuality and passion have historically been some of the most prominent themes depicted in works of art. For centuries, oil paintings and sculptures have captured the beauty and passion associated with true romance. And when it comes to affairs of the heart, artists are historically known for their raw and realistic portrayals. From lovers painted in a tight embrace, to nude body forms intertwined and voluptuous marble sculptures—we’ve found some of the world’s most romantic museums that are definitely worth a visit.
Musée d’Orsay: Paris, France
Situated in the heart of the city of love, this museum wouldn’t even have to try very hard to be romantic. But the Musée d’Orsay spills over with romantic masterpieces and alluring impressionist paintings. Housed in the old Beaux-Arts train station from 1898, this museum contains the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the entire world—which are notably filled with passionate scenes. Comprised of large-scale works by Monet, Degas, Manet and Renoir, the museum walls give off a subtle sensuality that feels transportive.
Museum of Broken Relationships: Zagreb, Croatia
An entire art collection that’s dedicated to breakups and broken relationships maybe sounds off-base for our list, but this museum is exceptionally heartfelt and emotionally moving. Good things often come to an end, but Zagreb’s museum invites former lovers to donate their personal belongings to their collection as reminders of the love that was once alive. Stories of sadness, anger and heavy sentimentality provide backdrops for real stories that convey the power of love. It’s emotional but also uplifting to encounter such real portraits of human romance. Whether you’re partnered up or single, this museum is a great place to wander around and feel a true sense of community that’s created by this such an intimate display of love stories.
The Louvre: Paris, France
This classic spot houses some of the most romantic sculptures in the world. The stunning Winged Victory of Samothrace greets you at the door—the goddess who helped protect sailors from shipwrecks. As the legend goes, she seemingly summons passersby to come closer. Another gorgeous sculpture is Eros and his lover Psyche, who’s been cast into an endless sleep. As Eros kisses her, Psyche’s wings begin to bloom from her back. Her nude body is covered by a transparent piece of cloth that’s falling off of her, as she reaches for Eros’ arms. They’re forever frozen in that beautiful embrace.
Victoria & Albert Museum: London, England
As the story goes, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria had one of English history’s most romantic relationships as one of the monarchy’s best stories of true love. She adored him so deeply that after his death, she wore only black for the rest of her life to honor his passing and her overwhelming grief. Building this museum in his honor, she created a place where the public could view the treasures of England’s past and the riches of the kingdom, as well as precious objects from around the world. In terms of romance, the museum has collections of illustrated manuscripts of famous Renaissance Period love songs, sultry sculptures showcasing some of the greatest love stories from antiquity and Medieval jewels that were each given to serve as tokens of affection—gold and gemstone love rings, wedding bands, and sparkling tiaras once worn on the wedding days of various princesses.
The Uffizi Museum: Florence, Italy
Designed by Giorgio Vasari, the Uffizi museum was once the palace of Cosimo l de’Medici. These two were some of the most important figures in art history, as the Medici family was one of the wealthiest in Florence and played a role in shaping the history of Italy. Vasari grew up with Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and many more renowned painters. Though he wasn’t famous for his own paintings, he created a book called The Lives of Artists that made him become known as the world's first art historian. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera are perhaps the most iconic, passion-filled paintings in all of the Uffizi. The Primavera or Allegory of Spring, is a dedication to women and fertility, as you can see their bodies seem to be coming up from the ground into bloom, after a long and dark winter. Every figure was painted to exude sensuality.
Picasso Museum: Antibes, France
This art gallery boasts the most beautiful location, with a vibrant terrace and a medieval stone tower that came from the former Grimaldi Palace. Just outside, the Mediterranean’s sparkling waters create gorgeous views, while Cap Ferrat can be seen in the distance. Surrounded by the sea, this medieval chateau has white-walled galleries that are filled with some of Picasso’s most hedonistic and untroubled work. In the fall of 1946, he used the chateau as a studio during a brief but happy interlude in his work life. Joie de Vivre is one of his paintings that hangs in the museum and seemingly captures the overarching mood with a bright palette of light blue and yellow hues. A naked model dances to pipe music on the beach, while a fishing boat floats aimlessly in the distance.
Belvedere Palace & Museum: Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a city that can charm and seduce its visitors with ease. Once a huge baroque palace, this museum was home to the ruling Habsburg dynasty and built for Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Prince was a lover of art and began collecting fine art when he was young. Today, the museum is a worthwhile visit for romantics because of its large collection of Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s masterpieces. Housed here is his famous painting The Kiss, which is widely thought of amongst the art world as one of the most dramatic and romantic paintings ever created. It depicts two figures joined in a tight embrace, as they stand on the edge of a cliff kissing. As a highly passionate painter, his favorite subject was the human body and his works were always marked by intense eroticism.
Rodin Museum: Paris, France
Tucked away behind the dome of Les Invalides, the Rodin Museum sits on seven acres of lawn and is filled with topiary-lined avenues. This museum is picturesque, and it’s known for houses an exceptional collection of works from its namesake, Auguste Rodin. He was one of the first sculptors to depart from traditional methods of sculpting the human body, which was generally crafted in an overly perfect and unrealistic manner. He loved the imperfections of a real human figure and wanted to depict this rawness through his art. Rodin began to sculpt more voluptuous figures, couples embraced, and undulated women filled with desire. At this museum, you can see some of his most well-loved works: The Kiss, Nymphs Playing Eternal Idol, The Cathedral, and Romeo and Juliet. Rodin’s sculptures are filled with eroticism and rawness that’s stunningly beautiful, and his art depicts human passion in its truest form.