In 1859, while the Second Italian War of Independence was being fought, Hayez painted Il Bacio. Surely his most famous creation, the painting enjoyed a wide and earned popularity right from the beginning. The sweet and furtive kiss that the two youngsters in medieval clothes share was immediately interpreted as the goodbye of a plotter, or a war volunteer, to his lover.
This interpretation was supported by the fact that the young man’s face is almost completely hidden, that his left foot is on one of the steps- as if he were about to run away-, that his knife is pushing on the girl’s hip, and that it seems like someone is watching them (their shadow has been projected against the wall on the left).
The two lovers stand out against the plain background of squared rocks. The young girl is completely immersed in the hug. Her lithe figure seems to be cut between the man’s red tights and his brown mantle, and it is enhanced by the shimmering effects of her pale blue dress.