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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“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

A Tour of the Kiss in Art

Explore the Brera Art Gallery

Explore Museums in Milan

Explore Museums in Bologna

Reflections

  • Why does this painting attract more interest than most other masterpieces in the Brera Art Gallery?

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Twitter feedback to @joyofmuseums (for the post on 12th May 2019)

Q: Why does this painting attract more interest than most other masterpieces in the art museum?

  • Just a guess, it’s sexual in nature? Sex sells 🤷🏻‍♀️
  • Because it’s sexy! 😎
  • Seriously? It’s a kissing scene and sex sells! 🤗😂
  • The kiss looks stolen….very sexy.
  • It suggests fertility. That has always been a welcomed theme, though we’re overpopulating the planet now and the biological imperative “ain’t what it used to be.” Also interesting in the write-up is that it’s a “girl” and a “man”–another convention that has seen better days.
  • I think is hidden kiss between 2 person that are not supposed to be together, because of their family level status ..
    maybe 1 of them is married,or maybe both,or one of them is from one rich family and the other one are not !✍🏽☑️
  • Romantic
  • Look at the way he’s holding her face, and she’s clutching his shoulder. They’re into each other, the sensuality of it draws you in.
    Delicious. 😈😍
  • Because it’s hot.
  • He’s leaving, a goodbye kiss. Yearning feelings will follow.
  • Because it is pure love in an age of Tinder.
  • Do you really need to ask?
  • Their dress style suggests two different classes. The confined space and dim lighting suggest a fleeting moment, a forbidden love. We’ve all felt that.
  • It’s a very real kiss!
  • Because of the #VictoryKiss. 💋
  • A moment of pure passion, stolen in danger and over too soon.
  • Well this is interesting
  • Does it? Wow!
  • 💋
  • I have seen it: it’s really beautiful, full of grace🙂
  • The passion. The textures, the crisp, shine of the dress, next to the soft texture of his cloak and tights.
  • You nailed it! It’s touchable even on the screen of a phone.
  • Because it looks like a stolen moment kiss. So romantic!
  • I saw this portrait in the corridor of intercontinental le grand in Paris a few years ago when I stayed a night, so tempted to lift it 🤦🏿‍♂️🤷🏿‍♂️
  • You can just feel the passion from the kiss
  • A stolen kiss.
  • Don Juan
  • Is this a #klance reference?
  • It is not necessarily sexual. I find it very sensual. We all love sensuality.
  • For me it is the dress. He painted different versions of it, but the blue dress is what mesmerizes me of “Il Bacio”! Everytime I am in #Milan if I can I go see it and the “Cristo Morto” by Mantegna 🙂 #Milano

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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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