Lot 343
  • 343

Auguste Rodin

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Auguste Rodin
  • Le Baiser, 2ème réduction dit aussi no. 4
  • Inscribed Rodin and with the foundry mark F. Barbedienne. Fondeur; stamped with the letters V and (on the interior)
  • Bronze 
  • Height: 23 3/8 in.
  • 59.4 cm


Mr. & Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard, New Jersey 
A gift from the above in 1967


Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, illustration of the marble version p. 47
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
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin, London, 1963, illustration of another cast p. 63
Bernard Champigneulle, Rodin, London, 1967, illustration of the marble version pp. 162-63
Robert Descharnes & Jean François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, illustration of the marble version pls. 54-55
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustraton of the marble version pls. 54-55
Ludwig Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, 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 Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture, A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1977, illustration of another cast p. 150
Nicole Barbier, Marbres de Rodin, Collection du Musée, Paris, 1987, illustrations of the marble version pp. 185 & 187
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin/The Kiss by Rodin, Paris, 1995, illustration of another cast fig. 3
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin, Paris, 1997, illustration of the terracotta version p. 48
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, illustration of another cast pp. 214-15
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, no. S. 2393, illustrations of other casts pp. 158-63


Rich reddish brown patina. Some surface dirt in the deeper crevices and some spots of verdigris on the back of the sculpture near the bottom edge. Museum accession number 67.51A in red also visible at bottom edge on back of sculpture. A few spots of minor accretion on the male figure where the body meets the rock. Minor patina rubbing in spots on the figures' heads and some tiny patina losses on the male figure's right should and the female figure's left elbow, otherwise fine. This work is in very good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Rodin’s Le Baiser has become one of the most recognizable sculptures in the history of art. The work’s pertinence to Rodin's contemporaries was immediate and its continued relevance in today's visual culture has solidified the sculpture's legacy. Though he firmly grounded Le Baiser in the schema of his planned Le Porte de l’Enfer which was based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, Rodin’s sculpture transcended preceding imagery to create a true masterpiece that continues to transfix contemporary society.  

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 centerpiece 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 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.