19th Century European Paintings

19th Century European Paintings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 14. GAETANO PREVIATI | The Kiss.

Property of a Distinguished Collector


Auction Closed

December 11, 03:18 PM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property of a Distinguished Collector




The Kiss

signed Previati lower right

oil on canvas

220 by 95cm., 86½ by 37½in.

This lot is NOT subject to the Artist’s Resale Right.

Count Vincenzo Giustiniani, Ferrrara (acquired from the artist circa 1893)

Guido Antonioli, Milano (1928 - 1962)

Sale: Christie’s, London, 27 June 1988, lot 736

Sale: Christie’s, London, 30 March 1990, lot 472/B

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner 

Vittorio Pica, L’Arte Mondiale alla IV Esposizione di Venezia, Bergamo, 1901, p. 94, illustrated (as Il bacio)

Domenico Tumiati, 'Artisti contemporanei: Gaetano Previati', in Emporium, Bergamo, 1901, vol. XIII, p. 7, no. 73, illustrated (as Il bacio)

Achille Locatelli-Milesi, L’opera di Gaetano Previati, Milan, 1906, pp. 8-9, illustrated (as Giulietta e Romeo)

Achille Locatelli-Milesi, 'Les Tendances nouvelles en Italie: Giovanni Segantini. Gaetano Previati. Leonardo Bistolfi', in Les Tendances Nouvelles, Paris, 1906, pp. 402-403, p. 410, illustrated (as Giulietta e Roméo)

Valentino Rossi-Sacchetti, I Pittori Divisionisti Italiani a Parigi, Paris, 1907, p. 14, cited

Achille Locatelli-Milesi, L’Oeuvre de Gaetano Previati, Paris, 1907, pp. 8-9, illustrated (as Roméo et Juliette)

Guido Marangoni, Il pittore dell’anima e della luce (Gaetano Previati), Milan, 1910, p. 8, 14-16, cited & illustrated (as Bacio)

Vittorio Pica, Gaetano Previati, Bergamo, 1912, pp. 51-52, cited & illustrated (as Il bacio)

Nino Barberini, Gaetano Previati, Rome & Milan, 1919, pl. 10, illustrated (as Il Bacio)

Vincenzo Costantini, Gaetano Previati, Rome, 1931, illustrated (as Bacio)

Archivi del Divisionismo, ed. Offica Edizioni, Rome, 1968, vol. I, p. 249 (cited in a letter by the artist to his brother, dated 9 February 1891); vol. II, p. 47, no. 525, listed, n.p., illustrated

Gaetano Previati, exh., cat., Ferrara, 1969, n.p., (cited in a letter by the artist to his brother, dated 9 February 1891)

M. Rosci, 'Gaetano Previati (1852-1920)' in Mostra del Divisionismo Italiano, exh. cat., Milan, 1970, p. 85, cited

Annie-Paule Quinsac, La Peinture divisionniste Italienne. Origines et premiers développements 1880 – 1895, Paris, 1972, p. 259, cited

If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act I scene V

Painted circa 1888 and variously known as Juliet and Romeo or simply The Kiss, this painting is a pivotal work by Gaetano Previati, marking the beginning of his Divisionist period. Inspired by William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, it depicts the ill-fated couple embraced in a tender kiss, far from prying eyes. 

The composition evokes the tormented love of other famous couples from European literature. However, as art critic Achille Locatelli Milesi noted, whether we choose to identify this couple with Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca, or Tristan and Isolde, little matters, as it is ‘…the love of souls in search and in need of each other, the love in whose name knights and damsels would die in medieval ballads, […] that love is all in this painting, it is all in that kiss’ (Achille Locatelli Milesi, L'opera di Gaetano Previati, 1906, Milano, pp. 8-9).