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Art / The Kiss (Hayez)

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The Kiss (Il Bacio) is an 1859 oil painting by Italian artist Francisco Hayez, associated with the Italian Romantic movement. The painting pays homage to France's contributions to the Italian unification (Risorgimento) against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hayez painted multiple versions of The Kiss with minor differences; the most well-known is housed at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy.

It depicts a man and woman in the Middle Ages sharing a kiss by a stairway. Despite this tender moment, there are indications of danger — for example, a shadowy figure is coming up the stairs.


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Tropes in the painting:

  • Allegory: The colors of the couple's outfits (red, green, blue, white, and gold) are the colors of the French and Italian flags. The painting is a metaphor for the union of French and Italy during the risorgimento.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The painting is about an epic, yet tender, kiss between two medieval lovers.
  • Captain Morgan Pose: The man has one foot on the steps while he's kissing the woman, implying that he's about to leave.
  • Last Kiss: Implied. There's a sense of desperation to their body language as their kiss, and other elements in the painting (his outfit, the figure on the stairs) imply that something big is about to happen to the man.
  • Nice Hat: The man is wearing a feathered cap, which gives the impression that he's about to go out and fight.
  • Red/Green Contrast: In one version the man is wearing a green shirt under his red cloak. Coupled with the woman's blue, white, and gold dress, you get the colors of the French and Italian flags.
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  • Red Is Heroic: The man is implied to be a patriot fighting for Italy, indicated by his bright red outfit.
  • True Blue Femininity: The romantic lady in the painting is wearing an elegant blue gown.

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