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

Le Baiser, quatrième réduction ou "petit modèle"

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Le Baiser, quatrième réduction ou "petit modèle"
signed 'Rodin' (on the right); inscribed with the foundry mark “F.BARBEDIENNE Fondeur” (on the left); with the raised letters 'VL' and 'V' and marked in ink 'V 7276(I) gul' (on the inside)
bronze with dark brown patina and red undertones
Height: 25.3 cm. (10 in.)
Conceived in 1886, this reduction in 1898; this example cast in December 1909.
Private collection, France; sale, Hôtel des Ventes Méditerranée, Marseilles,
31 October 2015, lot 194
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
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 2015-4750B
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, nos. 91-92 ( the marble version illustrated p. 47).
G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 142 (the marble version illustrated pl. 71).
C. Goldscheider, Rodin: sa vie, son oeuvre, son héritage, Paris, 1962 (the marble version illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, pp. 62 & 63 (another cast illustrated p. 63).
I. Jianou & C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 100 (the marble version illustrated pls. 54 & 55).
R. Descharnes & J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, London, 1967, p. 130 (the marble version illustrated p. 131).
C. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, no. 49 (the marble version illustrated).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 72, 90 & 108 (the marble version illustrated p. 77).
R.M. Rilke, Rodin, Salt Lake City, 1979, pp. 38 & 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).
A. Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin, Paris, 1995 (another cast illustrated).
J. Vilain, Rodin at the Musée Rodin, Paris, 1999, p. 39 (the marble version illustrated).
R. Masson & V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 40 (the marble version illustrated p. 41).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Museé Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, p. 161 (another cast illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Love and intimacy 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 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, 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, 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 modelled his figures in the nude, and seated them on a rocky ledge.

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