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You Must Remember This

Doisneau Kiss.jpgSo do Italians kiss better than the French? Robert Doisneau’s image of Parisian lovers outside of City Hall lacks the tenderness, at least to my mind, on behalf of both the woman and the man that animates every aspect of Francesco Hayez’ oil painting entitled The Kiss (1859) below. Which painting is about desire, and in which one are the characters giving of themselves heart and soul?

Hayez (1791-1882) doesn’t seem to make it into the canon as taught at the College, but his paintings are much loved in Milan — especially the portraits of patrician local families, which are displayed in abundance at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and the Pinacoteca di Brera. I had gone to Brera to enjoy Caravaggio’s late-in-life Supper at Emmaus (different from an earlier one in London), and after spending time with that painting and works by Caravaggisti in a previous room, I happened once more (I never remember to look for it) upon Hayez’ work. Needless to say, there is always a shy group of people around it — folks too awkward to admit being moved by its unabashed-on-both-sides romance. I was not so limited:

Hayez The Kiss.jpg

A kiss isn’t just a kiss.

Addendum: Thanks to Herman Hupfeld for penning the headline to this post.

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