Lot 5
  • 5

Auguste Rodin

200,000 - 300,000 EUR
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  • Auguste Rodin
  • Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle
  • signed Rodin ; bears the mark F. BARBEDIENNE, Fondeur (on the base) ; bears the mark N ; numbered 9 ; inscribed 85576 gug (on the interior)
  • bronze
  • height : 25.4 cm ; 10 in.


Viraut Collection, Paris (wedding gift in June 1914)
Thence by descent


Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, nos. 91-92, marble version illustrated p. 47
Georges Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 142, marble version illustrated pl. 71
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin: sa vie, son oeuvre, son héritage, Paris, 1962, marble version illustrated n.p.
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, pp. 62 & 63, another example illustrated p. 63
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 100, marble version illustrated pls. 54 & 55
Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, London, 1967, p. 130, marble version illustrated p. 131
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, marble version illustrated no. 49
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 72, 90 & 108, marble version illustrated p. 77
Rainer Maria Rilke, Rodin, Salt Lake City, 1979, pp. 38 & 104, another example illustrated  p. 39
Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, p. 78, another example illustrated p. 79
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Le Baiser de Rodin, Paris, 1995, another example illustrated 
Jacques Vilain, Rodin at the Musée Rodin, Paris, 1999, marble version illustrated p. 39
Raphael Masson & Véronique Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 40, marble version illustrated p. 41
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Museé Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, another example illustrated p. 161 


Attractive dark brown nuanced patina. There is a light build up of dust in the crevices. Apart from some very minor surface scratches, this work is in excellent original 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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

"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."

Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin, London, 1946, p. 26

Created in 1886, 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 another 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 La Commedia, this forbidden liaison, so reminiscent of courtly love, had the greatest resonance for a late 19th-century audience and appeared in seminal works by other artists.

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  Elsen describes the novel gesture of Rodin's Le Baiser: "In The Kiss, which could have been made by 1881, 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" (Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, p. 78).

In 1898 Rodin entered into a contract with the founder Leblanc-Barbedienne in order to reproduce Le Baiser in different sizes. The original editions of Le Baiser were in 72 and 27 cm, to which Leblanc-Barbedienne added, after 1901, a 39 cm reduction that was produced until 1918. The present work is one of this third edition.