The Kiss, Part Two

"Kiss of Judas" 1300 AD
Giotto, Fresco (detail)

The Kiss of Betrayal

This magnificent fresco painted by Giotto over 700 years ago in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, is today as compelling and vibrant as it was in 1300 AD.  “The Genius of the Renaissance”, Giotto was the first who broke with the accepted practice that put every subject on the same plane as if they had been pasted on having neither depth nor perspective.  Instead of stiff, unemotional faces and bodies, he gave his subjects an earthly, full-blooded life force.

It is an awesome affair to “experience” a piece of art.  Look closely at the Giotto image.  The center of the fresco is that eternal moment between Christ and Judas.  There is a stillness and quiet around the two figures as the mob tumultuously rages around them.  Giotto portrays Judas thick browed, eyes deep set and dark, almost Neolithic.  He comes as Christ’s betrayer in blind rashness and ignorance of the part he plays in the drama.

Christ’s face is alive: living, breathing, grieving, hurting.  Yet we see Christ’s forgiveness and sorrow for Judas and the enormity of his deed…the Judas kiss, the kiss of betrayal.


"Maternal Kiss" 1897
Cassatt, Pastel on paper

"Baby's First Caress" 1890
Cassatt, Pastel on paper

The Maternal Kiss

Whoa! This is not just another sentimental, sugar sweet painting of mother and child! Ponder these paintings for a moment:  Mother and child share a deep and common love. There is a passion there, a bliss, an ecstasy. The mother and child are physically and intensely wrapped up in each other-almost like the feeling of being “in love.”

It was astonishing that Mary Cassatt (1849-1926), could capture these images as she herself eschewed marriage and a family of her own.

Cassatt was born to a well to do family in Philadelphia and brought up to have a traditional life as a wife and mother…but then she went to Paris to study art!  Remaining in France most of her life, Cassatt became famous for portraying the maternal bond and the tender maternal kiss.


"Dracula" 1931

Horrifying Kiss

There really was a Dracula!  And he really was from Transylvania!  And he really was bloodthirsty and he really was cruel!  But vampire, he was not.

Bram Stoker, Irish author, was inspired by the legend of Prince Dracula from the dark forested mountains of Eastern Europe to write his Gothic tale in 1897.

Watch this short 1931 video to see film’s most horrifying kiss! …Dracula.
Click here if unable to view the video.

Leave a Comment



  1. Vic DePratti May 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    So many kisses – all with different meaning, intent. The maternal kiss, the indelible sign of a life time commitment -Motherhood being a life time sentence. The others less revealing. My preference is the kiss of romance, passion. Not quite as indelible and only on occasion a life time commitment. But, so be it.

    • kirby May 24, 2012 at 1:05 am - Reply

      True Vic. Lots of kinds of love, lots of kinds of commitment!

  2. Vic DePratti May 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    So many kisses. All with a different intent, meaning. The maternal kiss, an indelible sign of love. The visible commitment of Motherhood – a life time sentence. My preference is the kiss of romance – passion. Like a shooting star. Brilliant. Exciting. But not necessarily long lived. But, so be it.

  3. Sissy Alsabrook May 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I shared this on my facebook page because of the power of a kiss. XO Sissy

    • kkeditor May 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sissy! I appreciate the Facebook link!

  4. linda May 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Divine juxtapositions, Kirby, and enlightened commentary — I love “full-blooded life force.” Your comparisons are so creative – your blog is a joy.


    • kkeditor May 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      A lot of the art history has come from YOU, Linda!

  5. Patty May 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    The juxtaposition of the “kisses” is powerful. Sandwiching mother & child between the Judas and Vampire kisses created an interesting layer of feeling. I can’t wait for your next installment. PL

    • kkeditor May 27, 2012 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Interesting word…sandwiching. Makes me think how many different emotions a day we sandwich into our feelings!

  6. stephen dunn May 26, 2012 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Kirby your blogs do indeed cause one to “think” and ponder…
    For instance who and when did the human make the distinction that two people touching their mouths together was a display of love or caring? Does it have to do with that orifice is also the one where we ingest sustenance that sustains our lives and therefore is perhaps the most important part of our body and one we only share with another human that we truly care for?
    Of course then there is always the issue of the “Count D”–but he wasn’t seeking to kiss one on the mouth—was he…..

    • kkeditor May 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Yeah! Who ever thought to “do” the first kiss anyway?! Glad they did!

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