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    Sale 12145

    Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    16 November 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 40 B

    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

    Le baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle

    Price Realised  


    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
    Le baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle
    signed 'Rodin' (on the right side); inscribed with foundry mark 'F. BARBEDIENNE' (on the left side); with chaser's mark 'H' (on the rim of the underside) and with another chaser's mark 'H' and inscribed '60382 gol 380' (on the underside)
    bronze with brown patina
    Height : 9 7/8 in. (25.2 cm.)
    Conceived in 1886 and cast in September 1904

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    This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2013-4183B.

    Love and sexuality were central themes in Rodin's work; he was unrivaled among nineteenth century sculptors at communicating the drama of passion and romance. The study of love had dominated the arts and literature since classical times; interest in this subject, especially in the tragic fate that so often beset young love in its most intense expression, surged in the heyday of Romanticism during the early 1800s, and continued unabated to Rodin's day.
    A tale of forbidden courtly love in Canto V of Dante's Inferno inspired the embracing pair depicted in Le Baiser. Having entered the second circle of hell, where an unrelenting whirlwind torments the spirits of those who have committed sins of the flesh, Dante encounters two illicit lovers who lived and perished for their indiscretion in the poet's own day. Francesca was married to Gianciotto Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. During an absence from his domain, Gianciotto placed Francesca in the safekeeping of his younger brother Paolo. While reading the story of the adulterous love between Guinevere and Lancelot, Paolo and Francesca suddenly became aware of their feelings for each other.
    While in Dante's telling, Paolo initiated the kiss, Rodin has Francesca raise her body to him, inviting his embrace. Paolo appears to react timidly: in his surprise, the book slips from his hand, still opened to the page they were reading, now flattened in the embrace of body and limb. Rodin captured the instant in which their lips are barely touching, a split second before they actually join in the forceful press of an impassioned kiss. The tragic outcome of this encounter would have been well-known to Dante's readers and informed viewers in Rodin's day—Gianciotto unexpectedly returned, and learning of the conjoined infidelities of both his wife and brother, he slew them.
    The embracing lovers first made their appearance in Rodin's third terracotta maquette for La porte de l'Enfer, where they feature prominently on the lower left side. Rodin considered the group to be too blissful to fit within the cataclysmic drama of the Gates, and it did not appear in the sculptor's final version. Rodin subsequently developed the lovers into an independent, free-standing sculpture. To universalize his theme, the sculptor modeled his figures in the nude, and seated them on a rocky ledge.
    In 1887 Rodin executed a life-size version in painted plaster that came to be known as François da Rimini and was exhibited later that year in Brussels. Following his election to the Legion d'Honneur that same year, the French government commissioned him to do a larger-than-life marble version of the plaster. Work progressed slowly and the marble sculpture, now known as Le Baiser, was finally exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1898.


    Private collection, Lille (circa 1935).
    Private collection (by descent from the above); sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 17 June 2014, lot 166.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 47, nos. 91-92 (marble version illustrated).
    G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 142 (marble version illustrated, pl. 71).
    C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1962, p. 49 (marble version illustrated).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, p. 62 (larger version illustrated, p. 63; dated 1880-1882).
    R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, p. 130 (marble version illustrated, p. 131).
    I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 100 (marble version illustrated, pls. 54-55).
    C. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, no. 49 (marble version illustrated).
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 72, 90 and 108, no. 151 (marble version illustrated, p. 77).
    J. de Caso and P. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture, A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, San Francisco, 1977, pp. 148-153, no. 22 (another cast illustrated, pp. 148 and 150).
    R.M. Rilke, Rodin, Salt Lake City, 1982, pp. 38 and 104 (another cast illustrated, p. 39).
    A.E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, p. 78 and 80-81 (another cast illustrated, p. 79, fig. 70).
    N. Barbier, Marbres de Rodin, Collection du Musée, Paris, 1987, pp. 184 and 186 and 258, no. 79 (marble version illustrated, pp. 185 and 187).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin, Paris, 1995, pp. 20-21 (another cast illustrated, fig. 2).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin, Paris, 1997, p. 49 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 48).
    J. Vilain, Rodin at the Musée Rodin, London, 1997, p. 39 (marble version illustrated in color).
    A. Pingeot, "Rodin au Musée du Luxembourg," La Revue du Musée d'Orsay, Autumn 2000, pp. 67-70 and 74, no. 11.
    R. Butler and S.G. Lindsay, European Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Systematic Catalogue, Washington, D.C., 2000, pp. 326 and 329-330 (copper version illustrated in color, pp. 327-328; plaster and marble versions illustrated, p. 329, figs. 1-2 respectively).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, pp. 214-215, no. 49 (another cast illustrated, fig. 167).
    R. Masson and V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 40 (marble version illustrated in color, p. 41).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 162-163 (other casts illustrated, pp. 158-162; marble version illustrated, p. 163, figs. 1-3).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin, New York, 2014, pp. 133-134 (terracotta version illustrated in color, p. 132, fig. 121; marble version illustrated, p. 133, figs. 122-123, and marble version illustrated again in color, p. 135, fig. 127).