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Love and courtship
Love is in the air as the nation prepares to celebrate or commiserate the traditional festival of romance, Saint Valentine’s Day.
Photographs and cartoons below depict the excited exchange of love letters in 19th and early 20th century. The ‘Good Saint Valentine’ is also seen doing the mysterious work of delivering messages of love.
Illustrations by artists such as Tom Browne show rural scenes of courtship, from a romantic kiss by the riverside to a rather more formal exchange between a Dutch officer and peasant girl.
Cupid, the mythological god of desire, is present in many of the images we hold, from cards to perfume packaging. The notion that love is a game is depicted in several illustrations, and realised in the puzzle ‘Find their sweethearts’ and the board game of ‘Married First’, featured below.
So will Saint Valentine pay you a visit this February 14? Let’s hope you have more luck than the fellow in Sid Smith’s drawing below.
The Love Letter, by artist A Ludovici, 1904/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-211-(149b)-a-ludovici-the-love-letter-1904.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/211 (149b)
The listener and the love letter, 1868/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-14-the-listener-and-the-love-letter-1868.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/14
Ye Good Saint Valentine, 1875/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-30-(210)-ye-good-saint-valentine-1875.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/30 (210)
Kissing, by artist Tom Browne, 1906/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-244-(256e)-kissing-tom-browne-1906.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/244 (256e)
Love lies bleeding plant/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-77-(99b)-love-lies-bleeding.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/77 (99b)
J. Grossmith & Sons Perfume Souvenir, 'Love in a mist', 1893/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-109-(170)-j-grossmith-and-sons-perfume-souvenir-love-in-a-mist-1893.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/109 (170)
Courtship, Dutch scene, 1903/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-209-(127h)-courtship-dutch-scene-1903.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/209 (127h)
Little Billy's love affair, by artist Dudley Hardy, 1904/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-213-(305c)-little-billys-love-affair-dudley-hardy-1904.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/213 (305c)
The New Game of Married First or Wedding Bells board game design/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-217(i)-(216)-the-new-game-of-married-first-or-wedding-bells-board-game-design.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/217(i) (216)
Find their sweethearts puzzle, by W Stewart Dick, 1906/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-241-(211)-find-their-sweethearts-w-stewart-dick-1906.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/241 (211)
The Game of Love, 1905/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-231A-(66)-the-game-of-love-1905.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/231A (66)
I wish I had someone to love me, by artist Sid Smith, 1906/images/imagelibrary/showcase/love-and-courtship/copy1-241-(91)-i-wish-i-had-someone-to-love-me-sid-smith-1906.jpg
Catalogue reference: COPY 1/241 (91)
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