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The Look of Love - A British Library Publication

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The Look of Love


The Look of Love Romantic Illustration through the Ages is a wondrous celebration of love through the centuries. No single author or editor takes credit for this publication – it is simply a collection of beautiful illustrations and quotations on the theme of love.   

Featuring illustrations by artists such as  Charlotte Brontë, Rene Bull, Philippe-Louis Deboucourt, Christine de Pisan, drawings by Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham and Franz Stassen, as well as postcards, posters and magazine covers, this charming little book, just 15 x 21 cm, explores love since medieval times.

The Look of Love: Romantic Illustration through the Ages
Amazon Price: $15.00 $8.98 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 14, 2014)

The Great Lovers

Abelard and Heloise by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, 1919
Abelard and Heloise, Peleus and Thetis, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Bottom and Titania – all the great lovers from literature – reveal their stories through more than 100 romantic illustrations. 

The images, some serious, some humorous, come from a broad range of sources including medieval illuminated manuscripts such as The Book of the Queen by Christine de Pisan,  the Smithfield Decretals and the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Illustrations have also come from Victorian Valentine's cards, 1920s fashion magazines, book covers, saucy postcards, paintings, drawings and cartoons. 

Quotations from writers, poets, actors, artists and philosophers, including Charlotte Brontë, Quentin Crisp, Charles Dickens, John Keats, Groucho Marx, Rainer Maria Rilke, Oscar Wilde and many others, express love in all its rich diversity.

The Progress of Love

This delightful book presents the progress of love from those secret trysts in the garden and the moonlit walks, to the walk down the aisle and married love. 

The book explores love in all its rich variety from courtly love in medieval times to elves in fairy-land, and from 21st-century pulp fiction to a honeymoon in the far reaches of the galaxy.   


Rene Bull, The Rubhaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Whenever one reads a new book, there are often some chapters that are more interesting than others. There are no chapters, only illustrations and quotations.  Each quotation portrays a different view of love, a different angle, and if I were to choose a favourite I think it would be: 

Her heart is given him, with all its love and truth.  She would joyfully die with him, or be better than that, die for him″ 

Paired with an illustration by Rene Bull from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, these words come from Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens.



Fred Barnard, David Copperfield and Dora, 1870-8

Each reader will find some illustrations more memorable than others: that's purely
subjective. For me, the image that stands out is David Copperfield and Dora (1871-80) by Fred Barnard.   The image is paired with a quotation from Copperfield's words.  He says:

If I may so express it, I was steeped in Dora.  I was not merely over head and ears in love with her, but I was saturated through and through."

The image shows the conventions of the time.  The couple stand apart with Dora's small dog between. 

The Look of Love Romantic Illustration through the Ages is available from the British Library and all good book stores.


David Copperfield
Amazon Price: $89.00 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 14, 2014)

More Interesting Books

Choosing a good book, whether it be for yourself or as a gift, isn't always easy.  To help you decide here are some more book reviews:  

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Oxford World's Classics)
Amazon Price: $10.95 $4.75 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 14, 2014)


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