Lot 13
  • 13

Auguste Rodin

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • Auguste Rodin
  • Le Baiser, 1ère réduction 
  • Inscribed Rodin and with the foundry mark F. BARBEDIENNE, Fondeur
  • Bronze
  • Height: 27 7/8 in.
  • 70.8 cm


Galerie Max Berkowitsch, Brussels

Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above on October 13, 1970)

Thence by descent


Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin, London, 1917, illustration of another cast pl. 6

Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, nos. 91-92, p. 47, illustration of the marble version n.p.

Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, illustration of the larger marble version n.p.

Georges Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, illustration of the marble version pl. 71

Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, sa vie, son oeuvre, son héritage, Paris, 1962, illustration of the marble version p. 49

Albert E. Elsen, Rodin (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1963, illustration of the larger bronze version p. 63

Bernard Champigneuelle, Rodin, London, 1967, illustration of the marble version pp. 162-63

Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, illustration of the larger marble version p. 131

Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of the marble version pls. 54-55

Ludwig Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, no. 49, illustration of the marble version p. 121

John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, illustration of the marble version p. 77

Jacques de Caso & Patricia B. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, 1977, illustrations of another cast pp. 148 & 150

Albert E. Elsen, In Rodin's Studio, A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making, Ithaca, 1980, illustration of the marble on the cover

Hélène Pinet, Rodin, sculpteur et les photographes de son temps, Paris, 1985, no. 34, illustration of the marble version p. 46

Nicole Barbier, Marbres de Rodin: Collection de Musée Rodin, Paris, 1987, no. 79, illustration of the marble version p. 185

Frederic V. Grunfeld, Rodin, A Biography, New York, 1987, pp. 187-190, 221-222, 260, 262, 275-276, 281-282, 342, 373-374, 400, 457 & 577

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 Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, illustrations of another cast pp. 214-15

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

Catalogue Note

Le Baiser is one of Rodin's best-known and most highly regarded sculptures. Originally intended for the left side of The Gates of Hell, the present work portrays a scene from Dante's Inferno. These are the ill-fated lovers, Paolo and Francesca, who were murdered by Francesca's husband and Paolo's brother, Vanni Malatesta. Banished for their adulterous passion, the two lovers were doomed to spend eternity in an embrace. Among all 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 appeared in seminal works by artists such as Gustave Doré. Unlike more austere, contemporaneous variations of this subject, Le Baiser depicts the lovers in the throws of a passionate kiss. The sensuality of this work, enhanced by the tenderness of the figures' kiss, has made Le Baiser one of the most celebrated images in Western art. Albert E. Elsen describes the novel gesture of Rodin's Le Baiser, "In The Kiss... Rodin was still trying to show the official art world that he could compose with the best of the Prix de Rome winners. In fact, he not only outdid them in the sincerity of the lovers' expressions of mutual awareness and love, he even revived an old gesture of sexual appropriation by having the more assertive Francesca sling her leg over that of the hesitant Paolo" (A. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Palo Alto, 1985, p. 78).

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of this work in 1903, "The spell of the great group of the girl and the man that is named 'The Kiss' lies in this understanding distribution of life. In this group waves flow through the bodies, a shuddering ripple, a thrill of strength, and a presaging of beauty. This is the reason why one beholds everywhere on these bodies the ecstasy of this kiss. It is like a sun that rises and floods all with its light" (R. M. Rilke, Rodin, London, 1946, p. 26).