“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin
“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin is a marble sculpture of an embracing couple. Initially, it was created to depict the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalized in Dante’s Inferno. The woman had fallen in love with her husband’s younger brother. Having fallen in love while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, the couple is discovered and killed by the husband.
In the sculpture, the book can be seen in the man’s left hand. The lovers’ lips do not touch in the sculpture, suggesting that they were interrupted and met their demise without their lips ever having touched. When critics first saw the statue in 1887, they suggested the less specific title “The Kiss,” and this is now the title of this masterpiece.
Rodin’s approach to sculpting the couple was to pay homage to them both as full partners in passion. The eroticism in the sculpture made it controversial, especially when a bronze version of The Kiss was sent for display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The statue was considered unsuitable for general public viewing and was quarantined for private viewings only.
This sculpture was initially conceived as part of a group of reliefs decorating Rodin’s monumental bronze portal, “The Gates of Hell,” that depicts scenes from “The Inferno” in Dante Alighieri’s book the Divine Comedy. The couple was later removed from the Gates and replaced with another pair of lovers located in the smaller right-hand column.
François Auguste René Rodin (1840 – 1917) was a French sculptor and one of the founders of modern sculpture. Rodin was schooled traditionally and did not set out to rebel from the traditions of sculpture. However, Rodin’s unique works departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory. Rodin’s passion was to model the human body with realism; however, some of his most notable sculptures were criticized during his lifetime. Fortunately, he refused to change his style.
With successive works, Rodin’s reputation grew slowly, and he became the preeminent French sculptor, and by 1900, when he was 60 years old, he was a world-renowned artist. Rodin is one of the few sculptors widely known outside the specialist visual arts community.
- Title: The Kiss
- French: Le Baiser
- Artist: Auguste Rodin
- Year: 1882
- Place of Origin: France
- Material: Marble
- Dimensions: 181.5 cm × 112.5 cm × 117 cm (71.5 in × 44.3 in × 46 in)
- Museum: Musée Rodin
- Name: François-Auguste-René Rodin
- Born: 1840 – Paris, France
- Died: 1917 (aged 77) – Meudon, France
- Nationality: French
- Notable work
- Eternal Springtime (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Two Hands (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Cathedral (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Hand of God (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Thinker (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Gates of Hell (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- “The Gates of Hell” by Auguste Rodin (Kunsthaus Zürich)
- The Hand from the Tomb (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Sirens (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Young Mother in the Grotto (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Colossal Head of Saint John the Baptist (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Secret (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Thinker at the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Full Size)
- The Thinker at the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Medium Size)
- The Thinker ( Cleveland Museum of Art)
- The Thinker (The Legion of Honor)
- The Burghers of Calais (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden)
- The Burghers of Calais (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin (Washington, D.C.)
- “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin (Tokyo)
- Balzac (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Eve (Musée Rodin, Paris)
- Adam (Art Gallery of Western Australia)
- The Kiss (Musée Rodin, Paris)
- Orpheus and Eurydice (Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET)
A Tour of the Musée Rodin
“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
– Auguste Rodin
Photo Credit: By Yair Haklai (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Daniela Ziebell at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons