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Francesco Hayez - The Kiss

by Alexandra Tuschka

That's what we call a reduced picture theme! There is actually not much more to see than the painting title suggests. And does this picture touch us. It is one of the program pictures of Italian romanticism . A man and a woman are kissing. Their faces are barely visible because they are hidden by the shadow of the hat that the man wears on his head. Both are wearing medieval robes. What is recognizable is their devotion to each other, also expressed by the tenderness with which they both touch each other. Hardly recognizable, the man has placed his left leg on the stone steps and thus opens his body completely to that of the lady. Through this step, his coat is lifted at the same time, revealing a glimpse of a dagger. And even less recognizable, is the third sneaked in figure, which is on the left as an outline in the shadowy archway. 

This is one, probably the most reproduced paintings from 19th century Italy. The seemingly spontaneous gesture probably means a political allegory : the brotherly kiss between France and Italy. Such allegories were typical of the Italy of the time and often resorted to historicizing elements, such as the medieval dress. The colors of the flags of Italy and France are echoed in these. 

Francesco Hayez - The Kiss

Oil on wood, 1859, 112 × 88 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan


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