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Valentines: Art of Romance | Arts & Culture

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Valentines: Art of Romance
Valentines: Art of Romance

Valentines: Art of Romance opens at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum on Thursday, January 16, 2014.

This exhibition includes approximately one hundred Saint Valentine's Day greeting cards, postcards and elaborate three-dimensional foldouts from the United States and Europe. The exhibition includes exquisite lace paper valentines, many fine examples of embossed designs, hand-made valentines, even Rebus-puzzle valentines.

Ranging from the early 19th century to the 1930s, the exhibit shows the development of the valentine from the simple hand-designed missive to the lacy, almost extravagant valentines of later years.

The celebration of Saint Valentine's Day has changed over the years according to differing social mores and customs, and this collection of valentines is a veritable survey of changing taste-offering glimpses of American and British life during the 19th and 20th century, showing how ideas of romance and courtship were expressed during a less complicated era.

During the 1840s the quarto, a letter-size sheet, was the most common form of the valentine. Generally the cards had borders, often elegantly embossed, that were decorated with elaborate print or lace work and contained a lithograph or hand-painted picture in the center. Cards produced during the early 20th century lacked both the physical and spiritual characteristics of those produced earlier.

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