Thence by descent to the present owners
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929, no. 114, illustration of a marble version p. 57
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, no. 71, illustration of a larger marble version
Georges Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, illustration of a marble version pl. 71
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1962, illustration of a marble version p. 49
Bernard Champigneuelle, Rodin, London, 1967, nos. 78-79, illustrations of a marble version pp. 162-163
Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, illustration of a larger marble version p. 131
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, edition catalogued p. 100, illustrations of a marble version pls. 54-55
Ludwig Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, no. 49, illustration of a marble version p. 121
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, illustration of a marble version p. 77
Albert E. Elsen, In Rodin's Studio: A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making, Oxford, 1980, illustration of a marble version pls. 108 & 109 and on the dust jacket
Hélène Pinet, Rodin, sculpteur et les photographes de son temps, Paris, 1985, no. 34, illustration of a marble version p. 46
Nicole Barbier, Marbres de Rodin: Collection de Musée Rodin, Paris, 1987, no. 79, illustration of a marble version p. 185
Pierre Kjellberg, Les bronzes du XIXe siècle, Paris, 1987, illustration of another cast p. 585
David Finn & Marie Busco, Rodin and his Contemporaries: The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collection, New York, 1991, illustrations of another cast pp. 60-61
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Centre for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, no. 49, illustrations of another cast pp. 214-215
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, illustration of another cast p. 160
Rodin began working on the gates in 1880 following a commission from the French government for a monumental bronze portal that would serve as a centrepiece for the planned national museum of decorative arts. The project sparked a period of intense creativity that occupied Rodin for over twenty years and saw the creation of some of his most important and celebrated individual works. A journalist visiting his studio in 1889 described the scene: ‘I remember a time when the walls, the floor of the studio, the turntables and the furniture were littered with small female nudes in the contorted poses of passion and despair... With the rapidity of spontaneous creation, a countless host of damned women came into being and writhed in his fingers. Some of them lived for a few hours before being returned to the mass of reworked clay’ (quoted in Rodin. Sculptures and Drawing (exhibition catalogue), Hayward Gallery, London, 1986-87, p. 80).
Le Baiser portrays the ill-fated lovers from Dante's Divine Comedy, Paolo and Francesca, who were murdered by Francesca's husband and Paolo's brother, Gianciotto Malatesta, lord of Rimini, who caught them as they shared their first kiss. Banished to the second circle of hell for their adulterous passion, the two lovers were doomed to spend eternity in an embrace. Among the love stories in Dante's Divine Comedy, this forbidden liaison, so reminiscent of courtly love, had the greatest resonance for a late nineteenth century audience, and was reinterpreted by many artists including Ingres, Delacroix and Alexandre Cabanel.
Le Baiser was originally intended for the left side of La Porte de l'Enfer, but was never included as Rodin felt the work - being an embodiment of absolute happiness - lacked the tragic mood the project required. Instead he chose to exhibit the sculpture separately at the Galerie Georges Petit and at the Exposition Générale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and it quickly became one of Rodin's signature works. The French government commissioned a marble version in 1888, and after the work was exhibited at the Paris Salon that same year to glowing reviews, the Barbedienne foundry cast bronze editions in four different sizes between 1898 and 1918, the largest being 71.4cm. Several Barbedienne casts are now in public collections including Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Fondation Gianadda in Martigny and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
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