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“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez

“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez

“The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez depicts a couple from the Middle Ages, embracing while they kiss each other.

The girl leans backward, while the man bends his left leg to support her, simultaneously placing a foot on the step next to him as though poised to go at any moment.

The facial features of the couple at the center of the painting are not visible. Hayez wanted the action of the kissing to be at the center of the composition.

In the left part of the canvas, shadowy forms lurk in the corner, emphasizing an impression of conspiracy and danger.

This painting conveys the main aspects of Italian Romanticism and has come to represent the spirit of Italian unification in the 19th century.

The perspective in this painting is set on a series of diagonals. The diagonals follow the course of the steps and converge to the vanishing point, placed to the left of the two lovers.

These lines represent the framework of the painting and bring the observer’s attention to the couple.

The rich brown of the cloak and the red of the man’s tights blend with the light blue in the dress of the girl, while the neutral colors of the background help the couple stand out.

A light, coming from the left of the picture also highlights the couple. Its reflections also enhance the silky dress of the girl, emphasizing the pavement and the bricks on the wall.

Francesco Hayez

Francesco Hayez (1791 – 1882) was the leading artist of Romanticism in mid-19th-century Milan, renowned for his historical paintings, political allegories, and portraits.

Among his works, The Kiss was considered among his best work by contemporaries.

The anonymous, unaffected gesture of the couple does not require knowledge of myth or literature to interpret and appeals to modern museum attendees.

The Kiss

  • Title:               The Kiss
  • Italian:            Il bacio
  • Artist:             Francesco Hayez
  • Created:         1859
  • Medium:        oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   Height: 110 cm (43.3 ″); Width: 88 cm (34.6 ″)
  • Museum:        Brera Art Gallery, Pinacoteca di Brera

Francesco Hayez

  • Name:           Francesco Hayez
  • Born:            1791, Venice
  • Died:             1882 (aged 91), Milan
  • Nationality:   Italian
  • Movement:  Romanticism
  • Notable Works

The Kiss – Francesco Hayez

A Tour of the Kiss in Art

Explore the Brera Art Gallery

Explore Museums in Milan

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The Kiss – Francesco Hayez

Francesco Hayez | The Kiss, 1859

The Kiss – Francesco Hayez

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“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit 1) Francesco Hayez [Public domain]

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