The Beatles said it best when they sang "All you need is love".
Released in the middle of the Summer of Love, the song was not designed to sum up a portraiture exhibition, but nonetheless, it can.
And when you know the name of the latest exhibition to come out of the National Portrait Gallery, you can see why. Australian Love Stories launches for the second time next week, after spending a stint online during the pandemic.
Originally set to run alongside Love Stories - its international equivalent from London's National Portrait Gallery - last year, the exhibition's online format was designed to whet people's appetite for Australian Love Stories' physical incarnation, in a time when lockdown saw us rediscovering just how important relationships were.
Now, Australian Love Stories' begins its second life, showcasing 200 artworks not through the links they have in subject, but rather the links they have in their creation. They were all created from a place of love.
In reality, it can be very hard to find a portrait that is not somehow connected to this overarching theme.
"We tend to think of a portrait as a representation of a single individual that is put up in a public place, and we're supposed to worship it or get a sense of this person's greatness from looking at an image of them," National Portrait Gallery curator Joanna Gilmour says.
"But essentially, portraits are all about relationships. On the one hand, you've got the relationship between the artist and the subject or subjects, but you've also got the motivation behind creating the portrait and that's the thing that unifies every single work in this exhibition.
"You can't extract the concept of love from a portrait, because people have been making portraits for personal and private and intimate reasons for as long as they have been doing it for all of those other outward-facing reasons."
At the heart of this exhibition is not just relationships between romantic partners, but many types of love story from the past 200 years.
Of course, the exhibition represents the romantic type of love. There are portraits of high-profile Australian couples such as Nick and Susie Cave, Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward, Asher Keddie and Vincent Fantauzzo, and Donald and Jessie Bradman. The gallery has even commissioned new works of Australian couples David McAllister and Wesley Enoch, Stan Grant and Tracey Holmes, John Bell and Anna Volska, and Jimmy and Jane Barnes especially for the exhibition.
But love, of course, is more than just romance.
"We've taken a very, very open-ended interpretation of the concept of love," Gilmour says.
"It's not just husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends, and boyfriends and boyfriends. It's love in all of its manifestations.
The exhibition includes a series of works, for example, that focuses on Sydney's Mardi Gras. It sees photographer William Yang not only document the annual event but the work also represents his journey to finding his own identity and discovering acceptance within this community after he moved to Sydney from Queensland in the 1970s.
"It's a very uplifting exhibition, very colourful, lots of really beautiful, tender and heartwarming stories and just a fabulous show, which we hope people will love," Gilmour says.
In a lot of ways, Australian Love Stories challenges what many believe portraiture to be, and in particular, the role of the nation's portraiture collection.
Portraiture conjures up notions of grand artworks of important and powerful people, that are made to be hung in public and at times, are created to mark a historical event.
And there are certainly portraits within Australian Love Stories that were created to be viewed by strangers - the ultimate public display of affection.
It was only a few weeks ago that Gilmour was describing one such portrait to The Canberra Times, the one that King Ludwig I of Bavaria had commissioned of his mistress Lola Montez.
The artwork - which, thanks to Montez's Australian connection later on in life, features Australian Love Stories - was one in a series of portraits, all of which were a public representation of the royal's obsession with his mistress.
However, it would be near impossible to host an exhibition about love without showing its more vulnerable and private side.
The convict love tokens, for example, were brought to Australia by people who thought they may never see the subject of the portrait ever again. And quite possibly, they didn't.
And then there are the artists who use portraiture to give an intimate insight into their own love stories.
John Brack created portraits of his daughters, including one as a baby having her bottle and another of one of his daughters lying on the floor drawing with a pad and pencil.
And artist Vincent Namatjira, the great-grandson of watercolourist Albert Namatjira, used portraiture as a way of exploring his heritage after he being removed from his culture until his late teenage years.
"He started creating works of his great grandfather and him and scenes from Albert's life as a way of showing his pride in his cultural heritage and his country, but also a way of reconnecting back to his family history," Gilmour says.
"Another of my favourite areas of the exhibition is a group of works by Queensland artist Davida Allen. In the 1980s, she had four young children and was finding it hard to balance her life as a wife and a mum with her life as an artist. And her means of escape ... was to sit down and watch this show called Reilly, Ace of Spies which had Sam Neill in it.
"Davida Allen, like millions around the world, fell in love with Sam Neill, just by seeing him on the show and thinking he was so gorgeous.
"And she launched into these fantasies about her and this Hollywood actor, and she, of course, immediately started creating artworks out of these fantasies."
- Australian Love Stories is at the National Portrait Gallery from March 20. Tickets from portrait.gov.au.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: