Francesco Hayez
(1791 – 1882)
Hector Bidding Farewell to Andromache (Ettore alla porta Scea), 1811 – 1813
oil on canvas, 165x154cm

Francesco Hayez was an Italian painter and lithographer. He is primarily known for his romantic historical and classical mythological scenes and portraits. He hails from a family of modest means, and it was his uncle, an antique dealer, who spurred his interest in art. In 1809, he received a scholarship to study painting in Rome. After having completed his studies, he spent a few years in Naples, and in 1820 he became a professor at the Brera Academy in Milan, and then a director in 1850. He was the central figure in Milan’s intellectual and aristocratic circles.
In Hayez’s early works there is a noticeable influence of the Italian Settecento and Canova. He has been compared to Ingres in terms of blending classical and medieval sources. His painting Pietro Rossi prigioniero degli Scaligeri from 1820 is considered a kind of manifesto of Italian Romanticism. The museum painting Hector Bidding Farewell to Andromache is one of Hayez’s more important early works, created in Rome when he was mainly painting ancient scenes. Later, the painting will be sent to Venice to Hayez’s uncle, a restorer and antiquarian. The content of the simply conceived classicist composition is dominated by the figures of the strong and determined Hector and the tender and loyal Andromache. Visually, it is attended by the most important element of form, light, that spreads from the central figure, Andromache and falls freely, fading away across other figures. This artistic procedure can be interpreted symbolically as leading towards the tragic end, not only of the protagonists of the scene (story), but of human nature in general, which finds the excitement of war and conflict more attractive than peace of mind.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, Museum consultant © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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