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The Kiss by Hayez

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Created by Francesco Hayez, one of the greatest exponents of Italian Romanticism, the painting "The Kiss" depicts two lovers greeting each other with a kiss. 

We are talking about a painting also defined as political, as it was made during the historical period following the Congress of Vienna, a period in which Italy was not a single state but was made up of several states.

During this period secret societies such as Giovine Italia and Carboneria tried to unify Italy through an alliance with the French, an action that would lead to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in the year 1861. 

" The Kiss " was born in this period, when Count Alfonso Maria Visconti commissioned Hayez to produce a work that could represent the hopes of the patriotic circles of the time towards the alliance with the French. 

Francesco Hayez therefore decided to paint two lovers, a choice that allowed him not to be accused of conspiracy and at the same time, through this painting, to succeed in giving hope and voice to the ideals of those who fought for the Unification of Italy. 

In essence, the ideals of the Romantic era are represented through these two lovers who greet each other with a kiss, probably for the last time. The male figure who kisses and gently caresses the woman is in a position that indicates that he is about to leave, as if he were to go into battle or as if he were to run away. Instead, the woman is quiet, as if she had full confidence in both her man and in the future, in fact she does not hold him back. The scene therefore tries to represent the alliance with France against the Hapsburg Empire and shows that discretion and cunning are needed to succeed in unifying Italy.

Other versions of the painting

“The Kiss” by Hayez was a huge success at the time and the artist created two more versions of the painting. The second version was commissioned in 1861 by the Mylius family and now belongs to a private collection. Unlike the first version, the artist here painted the woman's dress in white.

The third version has a veil on the steps and was painted in 1867. It seems that the artist was particularly fond of this version, as he kept it to himself until his death. This version was later sold by the painter's heirs to the Grand Duchess Elena Romanova (granddaughter of Tsar Alexander III of Russia) and it is now part of a private collection. Not only that, in addition to the two versions just mentioned, the artist also makes other copies of the "Kiss", which are less famous, and which belong to some private collections.

Where to see "The Kiss" by Hayez

The original version, the first "Kiss" by Hayez, which is also considered the most famous and important, is kept at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. The painting was first presented in 1859 and remained in the residence of Count Alfonso Maria Visconti of Saliceto until 1866, when it was given to the Pinacoteca di Brera, where it is still today.

Article by: Aurora Caraman.

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