The Kiss by Hayez: love in the time of the Risorgimento
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The Kiss

Francesco Hayez - 1859

In this painting of strong emotional impact, rich with symbolic meaning, Hayez undertakes the theme of separated love.

The work, presented at the Brera exhibition in 1859 a few months after the arrival of Vittorio Emanuele II and Napoleone III in Milan, celebrates the success of the Italian Risorgimento. It immediately became one of the most reproduced works of art during the XIX and XX centuries and it was also cited by Luchino Visconti in the film I.

The Kiss is an admirable example of the Risorgimento style introduced into Italy by Hayez. It was received with immediate acclaim both for its patriotic connotations, because it represented love for the homeland and the young nation’s desire for life, and for its uncontested formal representation.

The superb pictorial skill evident, for example, in the sheen of the satin skirt together with the undeniable fascination of the subject have made this work one of the great symbolic images of the Pinacoteca, where it has been on display since 1886.

The link between the Pinacoteca di Brera and Francesco Hayez constitutes one of the founding characteristics of the location. Hayez taught art in the Accademia di Belle Arti and, nowadays, the Pinacoteca preserves the largest anthology of Hayez’s works in the world boasting, as well as The Kiss, works of art like the Double portrait of the Manzoni couple, Melancholy Thought, Pietro Rossi and The Odalisque.

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