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Francesco Hayez and his passion for his lover Carolina Zucchi

Francesco Hayez and his passion for his lover Carolina Zucchi


The famous "Kiss" is certainly one of the works that come to mind when you hear the name of Francesco Hayez, but equally interesting is the lesser-known side of this artist, namely his shameless eros. Born in Venice on February 10, 1791 and died in Milan on February 12, 1882, Francesco Hayez is the greatest exponent of Italian Romanticism, a versatile artist, an innovator, he marks the history of Italian art.

The relationship with his model

In addition to the famous paintings, Francesco Hayez also devotes himself to numerous erotic drawings and almost always the model represented in these works is Carolina Zucchi.

Besides being the model of the artist, Carolina is also Hayez's lover for 10 years, presumably between 1820 and 1830. Young, beautiful and unprejudiced, Carolina is the passion of the artist, even if the latter is married. So, while Francesco Hayez's wife deals with the administration of the income from her husband's work, Francesco dedicates himself to painting and sexual experiments that are documented in his drawings, which were found a few years ago by the descendants of the Zucchi.

Daughter of the accountant Zucchi and so part of the Milanese bourgeoisie, Carolina meets Hayez at the Zucchi house, a place that often becomes an intellectual salon where the most excellent minds of the time meet.

The two begin to collaborate and the modelling sessions soon turn into love meetings that last for hours, even if the girl introduces herself to her teacher as a pupil and model. The passion between the two grows more and more and often the meetings are transformed into very shameless erotic experiments, as evidenced by some drawings in which there are scenes that resemble an erotic Kamasutra as you can learn from the Memoirs left by Carolina.

Although the two lovers attend each other assiduously, Francesco Hayez is not satisfied only with his wife and Carolina, but he also has other relationships, a behaviour that makes Zucchi suffer because she is very much in love with the painter. In this case also, the testimony comes from the interested party who, in her Memoirs, repeatedly expresses her discomfort.

As for Francesco, as anticipated, women are a real passion for him, but his wife Vincenza stays with her husband until she dies, an episode that deeply affects the artist.

Hayez continues to paint until very late in life and dies at the age of 91, in Milan, where he is buried at the Monumental Cemetery. Only recently his remains are gathered and moved to a ossuary in the Famedio crypt, a place located in the same cemetery that houses illustrious personalities of all kinds.

As for the erotic drawings, these are 19 sketches made in pencil on vellum paper, simple but real works that Francesco Hayez donates to his lover and that are found about 20 years ago by the descendants of this bourgeois Milanese family.

Article by: Aurora Caraman

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