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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Le baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle

Details
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Le baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle
signed 'Rodin' (on the right side); inscribed with foundry mark 'F. BARBEDIENNE Fondeur' (on the left side); with chaser's mark 'I' (on the rim of the underside) and inscribed '68744 gor' (on the underside)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 10 in. (25.5 cm.)
Conceived in 1886; this bronze version cast in October 1907
Provenance
Leonard Bäcksbacka, Helsinki.
Private collection, Europe (by descent from the above); sale, Christie's, London, 25 June 2014, lot 312.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 47, nos. 91-92 (marble version illustrated, p. 47).
G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 142 (marble version illustrated, pl. 71).
C. Goldscheider, Rodin, sa vie, son oeuvre, son héritage, Paris, 1962 (marble version illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, p. 62 (another cast illustrated, p. 63).
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, 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, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1977, pp. 148-153, no. 22 (another cast illustrated, p. 150).
R.M. Rilke, Rodin, Salt Lake City, 1979, pp. 38 and 104 (another cast illustrated, p. 39).
A.E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, California, 1985, p. 78 (another cast illustrated, p. 79).
N. Barbier, Marbres de Rodin, Collection du Musée, Paris, 1987, pp. 184-187 and 258, no. 79 (marble version illustrated).
A. Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin, Paris, 1995 (another cast illustrated, fig. 3).
A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin, Paris, 1997, p. 49 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 48).
J. Vilain, Rodin at the Musée Rodin, Paris, 1999, p. 39 (marble version illustrated).
A. Pingeot, "Rodin au Musée du Luxembourg," La Revue du Musée d'Orsay, Autumn 2000, pp. 67-70 and 74, no. 11.
R. Butler, "Auguste Rodin," European Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, 2001, pp. 326-330.
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 (another cast illustrated, fig. 167).
R. Masson and V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 40 (marble version illustrated, p. 41).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, p. 162, no. S. 2393 (another cast illustrated, pp. 158-162; marble version illustrated, p. 163).

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

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 2014-4349B.

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.

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