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The Kiss By Auguste Rodin

2 min read

Auguste Rodin

François Auguste René Rodin (also known simply as Auguste Rodin) was born in Paris, France in 1840 where he quickly developed an interest in the arts. From age 10 he began drawing, between 14 and 17 he studied drawing and painting and in 1857 he submitted his first clay model into a competition at just 17 years of age. His talent and skills led him to a career designing roof decorations, staircases and doorway embellishments. It wasn’t until 1877 that he made a name for himself as an artist. The unveiling of ‘The Age of Bronze’ (1875–1877) brought him both fame and infamy after it drew accusations of sculptural cheating due to its very life-like appearance. In 1880 he won the commission to create a doorway for a planned museum in France. Rodin continued to work on the ‘Gates of Hell’ commission piece throughout the next four decades. Interestingly, within this one piece Rodin included figures that would come to command their own feature sculptures in years to come, including two of Rodin’s most well-known pieces; The Thinker and The Kiss.

The Kiss

‘The Kiss’ (1882–89) has been called one of the most iconic depictions of romantic love in Western art. The sculpture features a nude man and woman in a passionate embrace, carved from a single piece of marble. The origin story to this sculpture makes the incredible piece all the more interesting.

The figures represented in The Kiss were originally cast as characters on Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell’ doorway piece commissioned by the French government. The figures are said to represent doomed lovers from Dante’s Inferno – the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century poem Divine Comedy. The figures in the sculpture are Italian aristocrat Francesca da Rimini and her husband’s younger brother, Paolo. The two were said to have fallen and the sculpture captures the moment of the lovers first embrace before being discovered and killed by Francesca’s husband. Though killed for their infidelity, in the sculpture you can see that the lover’s lips never actually touch.

The Journey of The Kiss

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