Vengeance is Sworn



by Francesco Hayez, 1851




Francesco Hayez painted the striking picture of 1851, “Vengeance is Sworn”. The composition is dominated by the two almost life-size figures at its centre, their detailed treatment set off by the very summary background with its suggestion of Venetian palaces and a fountain. Hayez, too, was a master of the rendering of the distinct qualities of diverse types of cloth, from the flowered pattern of the dress, by way of the gleam of the silk, to the transparency of the veil. Hayez was intimately connected with the Viennese art world of this period. He had arrived in Vienna in 1836 in order to contribute to the process of reform then underway at the Academy of Fine Arts, and he was presented to the Emperor by Prince Metternich. Viennese painters of this period were also attentive to developments elsewhere in Europe and awareness of what was being painted in England, in France, and in Italy ensured a certain openness that was to find its reflection in the work produced in Vienna. It is by reference to the art produced at this period in these other countries that we are able to make meaningful comparisons. Such broad reference supplies us with the criteria that allow us to recognise the significance and the quality of the painting of the Biedermeier Era in Vienna, even by the standards established by this international context.