The Kiss of Hayez and the Ernani hat
The Hayez exhibition at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan featuring all three versions of the painting “Il Bacio” (“The Kiss”) gives the opportunity to appreciate the bond between this famous painting by the Italian Francesco Hayez and the Ernani hat and the meaning of this forgotten Italian symbol that we have chosen as our mark.
To celebrate the Hayez exhibition a huge number of people attended a very successful flash mob in Milan.
How a painting as old as “The Kiss” of Hayez has been capable of drawing the attention of so many young people?
The main reason is that this painting is about passion: an evident passion as the one that binds the two carachters together and a different passion a symbolic one that we are about to discover.
The young man’s hat – worn and highlighted by many of the flash mob participants – is the key to investigate this other great passion of the male carachter made evident also by the feet placed on the step.
Have you noticed it? It makes clear that the next ground on which the same will be placed is the battlefiled to which the young men is destined for the love of its country, Italy.
The symbolism was a tool used to spread out the ideas of freedom that were crowling throughout the entire Italian peninsula circumventing the foreign dominator’s censorship.
We can find this symbolism in a Manzoni poem (”Marzo 1821”), in the motto “Viva Verdi (an achronim for W Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia – an incitation for the king of Italy hidden in the name of the most popular Italian composer Verdi) used by the youngster enthusiasts of the Verdi music and of the freedom ideas hidden inside such music and – as a fil rouge – in the hat worn by the bandits fighting for the freedom of Southern Italy against the borbonic domination.
We come across this symbolism also on Ernani’s head, a bandit and the main carachter of the same name Verdi’s opera, that embodies the fight for justice against oppression.
Ernani’s hat became a symbol of the fight for freedom and justice and was used by ordinary people to show their strong will to get free in a unified country.
The various shapes of this hat were made necessary to circumvent the Austrian prohibition but all had something in common, the feather.
Not by chance this hat willl be used by a representative part of the Italian army (the Alpini) and we find the Ernani hat in “The Kiss” of Hayez.
The painting brings us back to the atmosphere of those faraway years and its huge success is meaningful: today as in those years we are fragile, lost, disappointed and in need to salvage hope, passions, certainties and autenticity.