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“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin-The Kiss-Rodin Museum, Paris

“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 immortalised in Dante’s Inferno who falls in love with her husband 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 actually 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.

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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 viewing.

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 were later removed from the Gates and replaced with another pair of lovers located in the smaller right-hand column.

Auguste Rodin

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 criticised 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.

Explore Rodin

The Thinker

  • Title:                     The Kiss
  • French:                Le Baiser
  • 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

Auguste Rodin

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“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” 
– Auguste Rodin

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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

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