I want to tell you about the canvas that has become a symbol of Romanticism in Italy. The author of this masterpiece is Francesco Hayez, a 19th century painter who became famous thanks to this painting I will talk about today entitled The Kiss.
Before telling you the story of Hayez’s Kiss, we need to take a step back and talk about Italy.
It does not have enough strength to fight other countries that take advantage of it and during the meeting they divide it into many small territories governed by the Habsburgs of Austria and their subordinates.
Unfortunately none of these 2 groups succeeds in their intent to take back Italy, but they still demonstrate an important thing.
Thus we arrive at 1848: this is the year of the riots leading to the First Italian War of Independence.
It is a very important event because it marks the alliance between Italy and France to fight the Austrian invaders.
The canvas of the kiss by Francesco Hayez was commissioned (in secret) by Count Alfonso Maria Visconti di Saliceto.
He turned to Hayez because he is very famous in Milan and he knows that he shares the ideals of the Carbonari.
Precisely for this reason the count requested a canvas that represented the battle against the Austrians that would soon be won thanks to the alliance with the French.
In 1859 the painting was ready and on 9 September of the same year it was presented in Brera with the name Il bacio. Episode of youth. Costumes of the 14th century.
After the event, the work ends up in the house of Count Visconti, where it will remain for 25 years.
And it will be the count himself in 1886 to donate it to the Pinacoteca di Brera, where it is today.
Comparison of all the versions of The Kiss by Francesco Hayez: (clockwise from top left) original, version of 1861, version of 1867 and watercolor on paper
The second canvas was painted in 1861 (again by Francesco) for Federico Mylius of Genoa.
Then, in 1973, the descendants sold it to a buyer, who in 2008 had it put up for auction at – the auction house – Sotheby’s in 2008.
It was the artist himself who made it to donate it to his lover’s sister Carolina Zucchi.
To conclude Hayez’s explanation of the kiss all versions, there is one last variant I have to tell you about.
Unlike the original work, the artist used different colors for the cloak worn by the protagonist and for the drape that is on the steps.
It’s true: there aren’t many details, but they are more than enough to make us understand that Hayez’s kiss is set in the hall of a castle.
If you look closer you can also see a small mullioned window (a window divided by a small column in the center) at the top right.
On the other side, instead, you can see an arched door with the light illuminating only a part of it.
He holds the girl’s face with his hands and the latter approaches his partner with his left arm.
In the kiss, the boy leans towards the girl, making the latter arch too and giving more passion to the gesture.
With this movement, the large cloak he wears slips, revealing a dagger that the protagonist carries with him.
And then the fact that he has stepped on the step makes us understand that he is about to leave.
The vanishing point of the work (i.e. the point where all the perspective lines converge) follow the same direction as the steps on the right.
And this point is not in the center of the scene but a little to the left of the protagonists.
In fact, the artist, before trying his hand at this work, studied the use of shades by Venetian Renaissance artists (such as Titian and Giorgione).
And some of the colors used by the famous colleagues can be found in this scene, such as brown for the boy’s cape and red for his tights.
When I told you about history, I told you that this is a work that concerns the war of independence of Italy.
The dagger sticking out under the cloak symbolizes the desire for freedom and that he is ready to fight to free Italy from Austrian aggression.
The colors used by the artist also change from one version to another and play a very important role.
Blue and red are 2 colors present in the French flag, the state with which Italy was forging an alliance to free itself from the enemy.
In the 1861 version – the year in which the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed – the girl’s dress is white.
In the 4th version it is the boy who shows different colors, in fact he wears red tights and a green cape, 2 colors of the Italian flag.
The painter Gerolamo Induno painted The departure of the Garibaldino with a structure very similar to that used by Hayez.
Here the protagonist is a young Garibaldian volunteer who is about to join the Thousand and is greeting his elderly mother.
The main difference with Francesco’s painting is the fact that here we are not in a distant era but in the Risorgimento.
In an environment overflowing with objects on the wall there is a reproduction of the work of Francesco Hayez the kiss.
The artist Giuseppe Reina is the author of A sad short story where the protagonist turns her gaze directly to a print that portrays the work of Hayez.
Finally, in 1878 Sebastiano De Albertis with Camp at the gates of Milan inserted a scene similar to the Kiss painted by Francesco in a camp full of soldiers ready to fight.
I am a knowledge-hungry blogger curious and passionate about technology. My goal is to discover the masterpieces and beauty of art in the digital age.
I personally liked it because it is a story to which we are very close
It’s better to be alone than with someone who doesn’t share your passion for reading. ” eiiete maltin
Thank you very much, you saved me.I have exams in a week and I didn’t remember these things, but thanks to your site everything is now clear.
dear Dario Masrtomattei how did you find the book ilbacio by antonio scurati you must first of all read the plot well