Audio: Auguste Rodin, Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
1 More
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle
signed 'RODIN' (on the front); inscribed with foundry mark 'F. BARBEDIENNE. Fondeur' (on the left side of the base); stamped 'REDUCTION MECANIQUE A. COLLAS BREVETS' (on the right side of the base); with founder's numbering '396 Y' (on the underside)
bronze with golden brown patina
Height: 10 in. (25.4 cm.)
Conceived in 1886; this bronze version cast between 1898 and 1905
Anon. sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 23 April 2003, lot 53.
Acquired by the present owner, 2003.
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 47, no. 91 (plaster version illustrated).
G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 142 (larger marble version illustrated, p. 71).
B. Champigneulle, Rodin, London, 1967, p. 282, nos. 78-79 (larger marble version illustrated, pp. 162-163).
I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 100 (larger marble version illustrated, pls. 54-55).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 77 (larger marble version illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, pp. 214-215, no. 49 (another cast illustrated, pp. 214-215).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, p. 161, no. S. 776 (another cast illustrated).
Sale room notice
Please note this bronze version was cast between 1898 and 1905.

Brought to you by

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 2003-263B.

Love and sexuality were central themes in Rodin's work; he was unrivaled among 19th 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 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, the 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, 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 work, 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.

The present example bears the "Collas" stamp, after Achille Collas, the pioneer of the reduction and enlargement technique of sculptural objects in full relief which the Barbedienne foundry began using five years after its inception in 1833. Owing to the distinctive founders' inscription on the underside--"369"--the present cast can be dated to before 1905.

(fig. 1) Ary Scheffer, Les ombres de Francesca da Rimini et de Paolo Malatesta apparaissent à Dante et à Virgil, 1855. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

(fig. 2) The artist, pictured around the time the present work was cast, circa 1905.

More from Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

View All
View All