Italia • 1791−1882

Biography and information

Francesco Ayets (Francesco Hayez; February 10, 1791, Venice - December 21, 1882, Milan) - Italian painter and engraver, one of the leading representatives of Italian romanticism.

Features creativity Francesca Aieca. The themes of the artist's works varied throughout his long and fruitful career. They covered political criticism, portraits, and nudes. At the same time, Ayets enthusiastically explored many artistic styles, such as neo-classicism, romanticism and nazarean movement. Many of his paintings are devoted to biblical and mythological subjects, but he also showed great interest in Italian history, often depicting his key contemporaries - political and public figures - in historical circumstances. In later works, the painter withdrew from grand historical plots and almost completely focused on allegories, often with strong political overtones.

Famous paintings by Francesco Aieca. "Kiss", "Odyssey in the palace of Alkinoi", "Portrait of Alessandro Manzoni", "Susanna in the bath"

Count, Prince, King and Academy

Francesco Ayets was born in a rather poor family in Venice and was the youngest of the five sons of his French father and Italian mother. Parents sent the child to the aunt of the mother, whose husband was a collector. He considered the artistic talent in his young nephew and sent him for training to a restorer. But at the age of seven years, the boy began to study painting under the guidance of the artist Francesco Majotto, with whom he spent three years.

In 1809, 15-year-old Francesco Hayez won a competition to study at the Academy of St. Luke in Rome. His patron was a sculptor Antonio Canova and Count Chikonyara, a famous art lover, who for many years was the main patron of the artist. In the same place, a young artist met Jean Auguste Dominique Engromwhich had a significant impact on his style.

In 1814, Francesca Ayets went to study in Naples, where, by order of King Joachim Murat, he wrote a large-scale canvas “Odyssey in Alkinoi’s Palace” (now located in the Capodimonte Museum). However, the fall of Napoleon and the execution of Murat forced the artist to return to Rome, where, under the patronage of Chikonyara, he received orders for decorative paintings, including his first frescoes in the Vatican in 1817, paid for by Canova.

In 1820 and 1821 he visited Milan, the cradle of Italian literary romanticism, and in 1822 settled there. After 14 years, Austrian Prince Klemens von Metternich ordered Ayetsu to prepare allegorical frescoes on the ceiling of the Caryatids Hall in the local Royal Palace to commemorate the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. Then the artist went to Vienna to meet with the monarch and show him the project. Unfortunately, the frescoes died in 1943.

In 1850, Francesco Ayets became a professor at the Brera Academy, and 10 years later he headed it.


Like many other artists, musicians and writers of that period, Hayez concealed his patriotic convictions and encrypted political messages because of the harsh censorship of the Austrian authorities. Moreover, he had to be especially careful: he became a professor at the Brera Academy under the patronage of Count Joseph Radetzky, viceroy of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, and received orders from the Habsburg government.

Of course, the most famous painting by Francesco Aieza is “The Kiss” (1859). Her main characters are a reference to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or Lucia and Renzo from the novel “The Engaged” by Alessandro Manzoni In addition, the artist reflected the spirit of the Risorgimento - the national liberation movement for the unification of fragmented Italy. The writer and poet Francesco Dal'Ongaro wrote in 1872: “In this tender kiss, we hope to see the beginning of a new generation that will be strong, sincere, and that will perceive life as it is, and this will fill it with a love for beauty and truth”. He wanted to emphasize the political and social influence of this work both on the younger generation of Italians of that time, and on the development of Italian art. “Kiss” has become a true symbol of the birth of a united Italy.

Portraits, nude and Mary Magdalene

The portraits that Ayets wrote are comparable in strength to the works of Ingres and the Nazarens. The models usually sit, they are dressed in strict, often black and white clothes, with almost no accessories. He wrote almost all the outstanding people of his time, including nobles, government officials, and artists, such as the composer Gioacchino Rossini. At the end of his career, Ayets made portraits from photographs, and in self portraits he used a similarity with By titian (1, 2).

One of the favorite themes of the artist were half-dressed women. Most often, Ayets exploited an oriental context, beloved by romantic artists. Image of harems and odalisks (1, 2, 3) allowed them to write scenes that would otherwise be unacceptable in society. But even him Mary Magdalenerather, full of sensuality than religious fervor.

Heritage's assessment of Aiez is complicated by the fact that he often did not sign or date his works. Most often, the date indicated in the description of the painting is the year of sale, not the creation. Moreover, the artist often wrote the same compositions with minimal variations or even without them.

Almost all the paintings of Francesco Aieca are kept in the state collections of Italy (the largest collection belongs to the Brend of the Pinakothek in Milan). The only exceptions are literally canvases found in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and the USA.

Author: Vlad Maslov