The Kiss (Hayez)

The Kiss (Italian: Il bacio ) is the name of a painting by Francesco Hayez from the year 1859. The 112 × 88 cm big picture is executed in oil on wood and shows a medieval gewandetes loving couple in an intimate embrace. It is with his subject and artisanal perfection typical of the Italian romance. The image is a symbol of the Risorgimento, the Italian independence and unification efforts in the 19th century. It is considered Hayez ' famous work and is in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.

Image description

The kissing young couple is as full figures in the center. The man, dressed in a brown cape and tight-fitting red trousers, places his right hand on the cheek of the woman, a hat with infected spring concealed his face. He has placed on the bottom step of a stone staircase to allow an even closer embrace his left leg. Furthermore, almost hidden in the shadow of his capes, the handle of a dagger is recognizable. The young woman wearing a blue dress with white trim. Her face is turned towards the man up, her left hand grasps his shoulder. The partially shaded vanishing image background is dominated by a large clips of hewn blocks of stone wall. At the end of an aisle in the background of the left side seems to wait for the two figures at the foot of another staircase a figure.


At first glance, the picture presented as masterfully executed, but the motive ago little remarkable work - historicist paintings were widely used in romance, especially the Middle Ages was idealized case. Also Hayez was already decades ago followed this trend, for example, had the Sicilian Vespers ( Scene 1 from 1821 to 1822 ) and the liberation Vittore Pisani from the dungeon (1840 ) created. In The Kiss, the viewer witnesses a farewell scene: The young man is wearing traveling clothes, his dagger points as well as the urgent shadow in the background on a dangerous path. Hayez works skillfully with the contrast between the cool colors of the dress of the young woman and the warm red and brown colors of the robes of the man.

Flag of France

At second glance, however, The kiss turns out as a political allegory. The two entwined figures stand to see on the robes, which are held in the national colors for the countries of Italy and France. At the time when the work Italy was divided into several regional kingdoms under which the Kingdom of Sardinia increasingly stressed the leadership role.

The kiss itself symbolizes the close ties between the two countries: in 1859 fought the Kingdom of Sardinia and France as allies in the Sardinian war against the Empire of Austria and defeated it in the Battle of Solferino. The Lombardy was ceded to the sequence of Austria to Italy, after the annexation of other Italian kingdoms to the Sardinia established in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy. In September 1859, the painting on the Esposizione Dell'Accademia di Brera ( the issue of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera ) has been shown only three months after the victorious commander Victor Emmanuel II and Napoleon III. the city had visited. The symbolism was immediately taken up by the enthusiastic public.

Finally, an interpretation of a literary background before possible. The scene is also on Renzo and Lucia from the novel I Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni as on William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, which Hayez 1823 inspired the painting of a farewell scene.

More versions

Hayez painted three more versions of this motif:

  • A smaller version gave Hayez the family of Carolina Zucchi, who had, for example, for his work stood him The patient model and his lover was. It is now in a private collection in Turin.
  • Another version was sold at auction on May 7, 1998 at Sotheby's auction house in New York. In the painting in the size 117 × 80 cm, the young woman as in the original wearing a blue dress, but lies on the steps next to the pair a white cloth. This picture is now in Italy.
  • In the version of 1861, which was painted in oil on canvas, the young woman wearing a white dress, which excluded France and the focus is entirely installed on the just united Italy. The picture was commissioned by Federico Mylius (1826-1897) in order, the son of Henry ( Enrico ) Mylius, a successful German banker who had settled in 1792 in Milan. The heirs of Federico Mylius ' sold the painting to a German collector on. On 12 November 2008 it was auctioned at Sotheby's in London. The value was estimated at £ 400,000-600,000 ( € 505.00-760.000 ), the price obtained was £ 780,450.