The medieval setting of The Last Kiss by Hayez, the rich pictorial range and strongly emotional accents are receptive to the new Romantic sensibility.
Another evocation of tragic love is Atala’s Last Communion painted by Pierre-Jérôme Lordon in Paris in 1808.
The subject comes from the novella Atala (1801) by the French writer François-René de Chateaubriand.
Sommariva also owned the large canvas of The Spicery in a Cloister by Giovanni Migliara in 1823. It is inspired by 17th-century Dutch painting, from which it derives the optical precision by which the painter depicts the work of the apothecary-friars, dwelling on each detail of the scene.
The Shakespeare-inspired story of the two lovers, one of the cornerstones of Romanticism, was successfully popularized by Hayez. Thanks to the many reproductions, but also to great critical acclaim, the painting became a nineteenth-century Romantic cult artwork.
The painting at Villa Carlotta was commissioned by Giovanni Battista Sommariva, and in 2015 underwent a complex analysis to identify the techniques and pigments.
The rooms of Villa Carlotta vaunt a wealth of literature and art history cross-references. The gallery’s famous Hayez canvas has a neighbour that is less well-known but with equally interesting literary echoes. An 1808 painting by French artist Pierre-Jérome Lordon depicts a scene from Atala, a novella published by Chateaubriand seven years earlier.