Modern Romance

It’s complicated

Ah, love. Is there any subject we spend more time obsessing about or agonising over?
Weren’t the olden days great with their straightforward, simple, drama-free romances? Nope.

Portrait of a Young Lady, “Marietta Strozzi” at Bode Museum

Being embarrassed by your parents is just part of being a teenager, never more so when they’re trying to set you up on a date. So imagine being Marietta Strozzi. Her parents didn’t just drop a few hints about their friends’ eligible sons, they made a marble bust of their 16-year-old daughter and paraded it around 15th century Florence to attract suitors.

Discover the story, here.

Portrait of a Young Lady, “Marietta Strozzi”, by Desiderio da Settignano, c. 1460 (From the collection of Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

The Green Caesar & Cleopatra the beauty at Altes Museum

A 21-year-old Cleopatra was in the middle of a family feud for the throne of Egypt when Julius Caesar arrived in town to help settle things. She knew what she wanted and she knew exactly what she was going to do to get it: roll herself up in a carpet and get smuggled into his bedroom. And the rest is history.

Discover the story, here.

Cesar and Cleopatra (From the collection of Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Amor and Psyche at Alte Nationalgalerie

If you think your love life is complicated, read the extraordinary story of Cupid and Psyche and you might think again. She was a mortal woman so beautiful that even Venus the goddess of love was jealous of her looks. And that kind of thing never ends well.

Discover the story, here.

Amor and Psyche, by Reinhold Begas, 1854 - 1857 (From the collection of Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Satyr and Hermaphrodite at Altes Museum

One thing that’s become apparent about humans as we gain more self-knowledge is that none of us is 100% anything.

Discover the story, here.

Satyr and Hermaphrodite, Unknown, 100/200 (From the collection of Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

In The Conservatory at Alte Nationalgalerie

This was seen as one of Édouard Manet’s most erotic and scandalous paintings when it first arrived in Berlin in the 1880s. The Empress was shocked. And no wonder! Just look at it. Anything could happen! But before you laugh at the innocence of past times, let’s talk about ambiguity in art…

Discover the story, here.

In the Conservatory, by Édouard Manet, 1879 (From the collection of Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Layla and Majnun at Pergamonmuseum

Tragic love stories are nothing new - even Romeo and Juliet were following a well-trodden road - but this epic poem by 12th Century Persian poet Neẓāmi Ganjavi was such a strong entry in the field that it inspired Eric Clapton to write one of the world’s most famous rock songs about its heroine, Layla, almost 800 years later. And Majnun? Well, that wasn’t even his real name. In fact it’s Arabic for “Madman”. Which shows how well the story ended for Qays ibn Al-Mulawwah.

Discover the story, here

Majnun among the wild animals, Mahmud Al-Husayni, 1420 (From the collection of Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Discover more about Modern Romance:
- Love is Blind
- Adam, Eve and The Tortoise

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