Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and the nation’s paintings give us at Art UK a rich seam to mine for present ideas for your partner. Not content with traditional flowers, chocolates and jewellery, we’ve gone the extra mile for gifts to present to your loved one. You can thank us later.

A pair of horses 

‘Look’, this man’s face (and those of the horses, come to think of it) seems to say ‘I got you two well-bred, ready-harnessed horses, perfect to work the fields. What could be more romantic than that?’

Three purebred sheep

Valentine Barford (1786–1864), with His Purebred Sheep

Valentine Barford (1786–1864), with His Purebred Sheep 1857

Henry Barraud (1811–1874)

West Northamptonshire Council

And while we’re on the topic of livestock: this guy’s name is Valentine and his sheep are purebred. What more could you desire?

A song

The Capercaillie Sings His Lovesong

The Capercaillie Sings His Lovesong 1985

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

I’m not entirely sure what a capercaillie is, and to be honest, it’s more entertaining not to look it up. But it’s putting some capercaillie heart and soul into that love song. The person on the left, however, looks distinctly unimpressed.

A self portrait

Self Portrait

Self Portrait 1915

Roland Hipkins (1895–1951)

Dudley Museums Service

Why not immortalise yourself in oils for your amour? But only if you’re as dashing as Mr Roland Hipkins here.

If you insist on being traditional...

Flowers on a Fountain with a Peacock

Flowers on a Fountain with a Peacock c.1700–c.1710

Jan Weenix (1642–1719)

The Wallace Collection

...then let’s really go for it: don’t just get a supermarket bunch of flowers, get a whole cascade of them and place them on a fountain: and while you’re at it, throw in a peacock.

Candle and a sausage 

The Candle

The Candle

Charles Murray (1894–1954)

Bradford Museums and Galleries

Why not strip away all of the unnecessary niceties of romance – the cute tea lights, the home-cooked meal – and just get to the bare bones of it: a single candle in a glass and some salami.

A heart

Give your loved one a heart – no, not your heart, metaphorically, an actual heart!

This painting depicts the moment that Ghismonda receives her lover Guiscardo’s heart in a golden cup, from the servant of her father Tancredi – the Prince of Salerno. Thankfully, it’s just a story, one of the 100 tales from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.

A yacht

Seascape with Yacht 311

Seascape with Yacht 311

R. W. Young

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

The ultimate display of affection (and, er, wealth): if you need inspiration on style then there are plenty of boats to be looked at on Art UK.

Something abstract

Abstract Sunburst

Abstract Sunburst 2005

Michele Elizabeth Field (1953–2014)

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Don’t worry about getting something with real symbolic qualities or any actual thought behind it: just gift something from which your partner is able – nay, obligated – to derive their own meaning.

A guinea pig

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig 1995

Dan Hays (b.1966)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Double Portrait of Henrietta Ward's Pet Guinea Pig

Double Portrait of Henrietta Ward's Pet Guinea Pig 1843

James Ward (1769–1859)

Lowewood Museum

They’re adorable and furry and make the perfect gift and… I just wanted an excuse to show off some of Art UK’s guinea pig paintings, to be honest.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Art UK!


Heart 2007

Derek Murray (b.1948)

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust

Molly Tresadern, Art UK Content Creator and Marketer