For centuries, oil paintings have captured all the beauty and passion of love.
Now, on Valentine's Day, internet browsing data has revealed the top 10 most popular paintings on the theme of romance, among buyers of reproduction art.
The list, which is topped by Gustav's Klimt's The Kiss, includes well-known works by Renoir, Botticelli, Toulouse-Lautrec and Leighton, as well as two paintings each by Manet and the English, Victorian artist Sir Frederick Leighton.
Sweet, not cool
, a London-based gallerist, observes that there is nothing remotely "cool" or fashionable about the selection. Almost all are from the 19th Century, all are paintings rather than drawings or photographs, and all are figurative and traditional.
"When it comes to affairs of the heart, people are nostalgic for a time when men were men, women were women, and everything was simple and straightforward," says Hossack.
"I'm surprised that there are no cool 1950s black-and-white photographs of lovers on street corners, for example. In fact, there are no black-and-white works at all.
"They are also more romantic and suggestive than erotic. They are modest, comforting and sweet, unlike so much of our contemporary culture.
"It's so interesting that they represent the diametric opposite of the chic, beige and grey prints you see in interior design magazines."
Big, iconic works
In addition, she notes that all of the paintings are "big, iconic works that fall well within the canon of good taste," rather than anything more unusual or obscure.
"These works have been validated so many times over the last 100 years that people feel safe choosing them," she says. "It shows how little confidence we have in our own taste."
The most intriguing painting on the list is the most popular of all, The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt. Although it is such a widely known picture, she says, in truth it is "rather odd".
"I adore it, but it is a very esoteric painting," she says. "The background and patterning is very odd, as well as the shape of the figures.
"But familiarity gives you confidence when you're buying art."
Are paintings the new flowers?
The data was collected by the online print company overstockArt
, which tracked four million visits to its website over the last 12 months.
It found that The Kiss attracted nearly 12% of all clicks, with Leighton's The Fisherman and the Syren coming in second with 8%.
"Our sales go up by more than 100% on Valentine's Day," says Amir Sassoon, the company's Vice President.
"Increasingly, people are thinking that rather than giving flowers or a piece of jewelery, you can give Van Gough's red poppies, which will last a lifetime."
He was not surprised that The Kiss proved so popular.
"It's the lust and the passion," he says. "It feels like the passion is really popping out of the canvas.
"It truly captures what Valentine's gift buyers are trying to convey to their loved ones."