AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
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AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTOR
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)

Baiser, 2ème réduction

AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Baiser, 2ème réduction
signed 'Rodin' (on the side of the rock); inscribed with the foundry mark 'F.BARBEDIENNE.FONDEUR.' (at the lower edge of the base); marked '17' (on the inside); stamped 'K' (on the edge underneath)
bronze with dark brown patina
height: 23 5/8 in. (60 cm.)
Conceived in 1886; this reduction in 1904; this example cast in bronze by Leblanc-Barbedienne between circa 1914 and 1918
Private collection, Belgium.
Galerie Giroux, Brussels, by circa 1950.
Private collection, Belgium, by whom acquired from the above.
Anonymous sale, Beaux-Art, Brussels, 5 December 2004, lot 256.
Robert Bowman Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 4 March 2005.

This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'œuvre 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 2004-492BB.
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, 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 œuvre, son héritage, Paris, 1962 (marble version illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, p. 62 (another cast illustrated p. 63).
B. Champigneulle, Rodin, London, 1967, pp. 157 & 282 (marble versions illustrated figs. 78 &79, pp. 162-163).
R. Descharnes & J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, pp. 130, 132 & 133 (marble version illustrated p.131).
I. Jianou & C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 100 (marble version illustrated, pls. 54 & 55).
L. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, p. 121, no. 49 (marble version illustrated).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 77, no. 151 (marble version illustrated).
J. de Caso & P. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture: A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1977, pp. 149-153, no. 22 (another cast illustrated pp. 148 & 150).
N. Barbier, Marbres de Rodin, Collection du Musée, Paris, 1987, pp. 184-187 & 258, no. 79 (marble version illustrated pp. 185 & 187).
A. Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin/The Kiss by Rodin, Paris, 1995 (other casts illustrated).
A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin, Paris, 1997, p. 49 (terracotta version illustrated p. 48).
J.A. Schmoll, Rodin and Camille Claudel, Munich & New York, 1999, pp. 49, 50 & 126 (marble version illustrated p. 49).
A. Pingeot, 'Rodin au Musée du Luxembourg', in La Revue du Musée d'Orsay, Autumn 2000, pp. 67-70 & 74, no. 11.
R. Butler & , 'Auguste Rodin', in 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, fig. 167 (another cast illustrated).
R. Masson & V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, pp. 40, 42 & 50 (marble and terracotta versions illustrated pp. 41-42 & p. 51).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, no. S. 2393, pp. 159-163 (other version illustrated pp. 159-163; marble version illustrated p. 163).
C. Farge, B. Garnier & I. Jenkins, Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece, exh. cat., The British Museum, London, 2018, no. 40, p. 104 (marble version illustrated on p. 105).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

The theme of the embrace appears several times in Auguste Rodin's oeuvre, within significant compositions such as the extraordinary L’eternel idole and well-known L’eternel printemps conceived during the 1880s. However, there is no image more recognisable than his magnum opus to romantic love, Le Baiser, unparalleled in its description of the complex emotions associated with the inception of love. Originally intended for Rodin’s grand project La porte de l'Enfer, the sculpture was inspired by an episode in Canto V of Dante's Inferno, recounting the illicit affair between two real-life lovers from the poet's own day, Francesca da Rimini and her husband's brother, Paolo Malatesta. While reading the story of the forbidden love between Guinevere and Lancelot, Francesca and Paolo suddenly became aware of their powerful feelings for each other. Interrupted and killed by Francesca's husband Gianciotto in the midst of their first kiss, they were condemned to the second circle of Hell, punishing sins of the flesh.

While in Dante's telling, Paolo initiates the kiss, Rodin has Francesca raise her body toward him, inviting his embrace. Paolo seems more timid, almost unprepared for the kiss. In his surprise, the book has slipped from his hand, still open to the page that the couple had been reading, its pages bent by the weight of her body against his. He delicately places three fingertips on Francesca's left thigh, a gesture that expresses both passion and restraint. Rodin has captured the instant in which the couple's lips are barely touching, a split second before they actually join in the forceful press of an impassioned kiss. As Albert Elsen has written, ‘The whole impression... is one of Paolo's slowly eroding resolve and awakening desire’ (A. Elsen, Rodin's Art, Oxford, 2003, p. 211).

Romantic love and sexuality were central themes in Rodin's work; he was unrivalled amongst his contemporaries at communicating the drama of passion and romance. 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 sculptures like Antonio Canova's Psyche revived by Cupid's Kiss on display at the Louvre since 1824, were warmly received by the ‘grande publique.’

There is no doubt that Baiser is one of the most direct depictions of desire and carnal love. When the marble version was first exhibited, the public and critics were stunned by the power of its eroticism. The idealisation and lasciviousness of the bodies and the modernity of the group were the catalyst for immediate success and the commissions in marble and bronze that followed in its wake. The original version of Le Baiser was approximately 85 centimetres high, and in 1888, following the success of the sculpture in Brussels and Paris, the French government commissioned Rodin to create a monumental marble version, approximately 190 centimetres high. Work on the marble progressed slowly, and the sculpture, now in the Musée Rodin in Paris, was finally exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1898. The same year, in an effort to keep pace with mounting demand from collectors, Rodin authorized the Barbédienne foundry to cast bronze editions of the sculpture in reductions of 25 centimetres, 38 centimetres, 60 centimetres (as is the present cast) and 73 centimetres, retaining the right to cast the original scale himself. The present example comes from the second reduction, cast by Gustave Leblanc Barbedienne near the end of the artist’s lifetime, between circa 1914 to 1918. The second reduction was cast in two sizes, this being the larger, in an impressive domestic scale of 60 cm. which enables the full form of the work to be powerfully expressed.

At the time of its making, one may have interpreted the scene as risqué, a tragedy unfolding, an analogy to the dangers of acting upon impulse, foolish and profane, particularly when it was originally situated within the context of the Gates of Hell. Yet today, Rodin’s Baiser has become known as an icon of Romantic love, one of beauty, resilience and hope. Indeed, Rodin had felt that the sculpture itself appeared joyous in its previous context, hence he removed and thence suspended this moment, solidifying, enlarging and emboldening it. That Rodin ultimately produces an ode to their joy, placing the pair of lovers eternally within the moment of ultimate desire, at the brink of consummating their love without consequence, remains a triumph of modernity.

To the modern audience, this stunningly beautiful and amorous pair, removed from their position within the gates, are born anew. Judgement is suspended and love becomes celebrated for its ability to unite, regardless of reason, rather than a risk to be managed. The lovers remain solely in the context of themselves, suspended within the thrust of a tender desire, in an eternal present, where Rodin removes the threat of their impending doom. Such was born an icon of love, an emblem of youth, with no future and no end, eternal and enduring that would serve to inspire countless generations of artists to come.

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