In honour of Valentine’s Day approaching, we’re going to take a look at some of the most iconic love stories associated with our prints. From John and Yoko’s high profile marriage, to Leonardo da Vinci’s mysterious love life, let’s explore the romance and tragedy that surrounded the artists who inspired some of our prints.
You’re likely here because you’re a Beatles fan, which means you’ll be well acquainted with the romance between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Although she’s a controversial figure among Beatles enthusiasts, Yoko Ono’s impact on John Lennon’s life and art cannot be denied.
John Lennon was in a relationship with Cynthia Powell for many years before meeting Yoko – a relationship that is interesting in its own right, although not as widely talked about. John and Cynthia were married and had a son, Julian. This marriage eventually broke down, and a divorce was granted months after Yoko and John began seeing each other.
John and Yoko were married in 1969, and made headlines when they staged a week-long "bed-in for peace" at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, during their honeymoon.
Image credit: Eric Koch / Anefo via Medium
Just a few years later, however, their relationship began to struggle. In 1973, Yoko Ono confided in an assistant that she and her husband were becoming estranged. Yoko then suggested to this assistant that she should begin a physical relationship with Lennon. This assistant was May Pang.
John and May began a relationship, but Yoko remained in the picture. With Yoko’s consent, John continued seeing May, maintaining a relationship with both women for a time.
John and Yoko’s relationship remains iconic, and it’s understandable why. The two clearly shared a strong connection. During a 1980 interview with Playboy, John Lennon spoke about their relationship, saying, “When I fell in love with Yoko, I knew, my God, this is different from anything I've ever known”. He continued: “This is more than a hit record, more than gold, more than everything”.
Want more Beatles? Check out our Limited Edition Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite print here.
‘When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes.’
– Amadeo Modigliani
Image via Arthive.
Born in 1884 in Livorno, Italy, Amadeo Modigliani is not only known for his art, but also for his tragic life.
In 1917, just three years before his death, Modigliani met Jeanne Hébuterne, the love of his life.
Hébuterne was pregnant with the couple’s second child in 1920, when Modigliani became seriously unwell with tubercular meningitis. Modigliani died on 24 January 1920, at the Hôpital de la Charité, at the age of 35. Tragically, Hébuterne committed suicide just two days later, when she threw herself from a fifth-floor window – killing herself and her unborn child. At the time of her death, she was just 21 years old.
Hébuterne’s grave reads: ‘Devoted to the extreme sacrifice.’
Despite this tragic end, Modigliani’s work helps to preserve both his legacy, and Jeanne Hébuterne’s.
Shop our Modigliani-inspired print.
Da Vinci’s personal life is somewhat of a mystery, with his sexuality remaining the subject of academic debate. He never married, and had no recorded romantic relationships. Given the commitment Da Vinci had to his craft, some might suggest he was married to his work. Others would disagree.
Although Da Vinci was accused of sodomy when he was 23, these charges were dropped. In 1476, this offence carried the death penalty. Some historians believe that this event led Da Vinci to remain celibate for most of his life, while others contend that he did have relationships with men in secret.
‘Life without love is no life at all’
– Leonardo Da Vinci
While some artists are mythologised for their romantic and personal lives, Da Vinci’s work speaks for itself, and continues to inspire us to this day.
Here is our squared take on the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci’s most prolific work.
Pablo Fanque, born in Norwich in 1810, was the first recorded Black circus owner in Britain – although from the 1960s onwards he’s become best known for The Beatles song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Image credit: Public domain, via Wikipedia.
It’s a point of interest that the circus poster that eventually led to The Beatles song Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite! advertised an event that took place on Valentine’s Day itself.
Pablo Fanque was married twice. His first marriage to Susannah Marlaw sadly ended when she was killed in a tragic circus accident. Fanque sought medical attention for his wife but she couldn't be saved – a devastating outcome for Fanque and his two sons.
Just a few months later, Fanque married Elizabeth Corker, a 22-year-old circus rider. The two of them had two more sons, both of whom joined the circus. However, by 1861, Fanuqe was reportedly living with a woman named Sarah – who he referred to as his wife. The only known information about the relationship comes from census records, so there are definite gaps in the story. By 1871 though, Fanque was back living with Elizabeth and their two sons. The details here will remain a mystery.
It was Fanque’s first wife, Susannah, who would have spent Valentine’s Day at the circus in 1843, watching Mr. Kite take to the stage. We can only imagine that it would have been a night to remember.
Whether Van Gogh and Gauguin were lovers or friends has long been debated. Although we will never know the truth, we do know that their relationship was intense. From October to December 1988, the pair lived together in Arles.
‘The nine weeks that Van Gogh and Gauguin shared in the sunflower-colored house in Arles was a highly productive period for both artists: Van Gogh made 36 canvases and Gauguin completed 21.’
– Karen Chernick, writing for Artsy
The two artists often argued, and towards the end of their time in Arles, Van Gogh became afraid that Gauguin would leave him. A crisis ensued, leading Van Gogh to sever a portion of his left ear. This act led to a stay in hospital, where Van Gogh reportedly asked to see Gauguin repeatedly.
Gauguin had fled Arles, and the two never met again.
Despite this heartbreaking end to the relationship between these two great artists, the work they created during their time together serves as a reminder of their bond.
Here is our squared take on Café Terrace at Night, which Van Gogh painted in Arles just a few weeks before Gauguin came to stay.
If you’d like to express your love with art this Valentine’s Day, our prints make the perfect present. Be sure to place your order in time to receive your print before 14 February.
57 years ago today, on February 17 1967, The Beatles set out to record one of the most musically complex and avant-garde tracks of their illustrious career – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!