Auguste Rodin
The Kiss 1901–4

Artwork details

Auguste Rodin 1840–1917
The Kiss
Le Baiser
Date 1901–4
Medium Pentelican marble
Dimensions Object: 1822 x 1219 x 1530 mm, 3180 kg
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and public contributions 1953
Not on display

Display caption

The Tate’s The Kiss is one of three full-scale versions made in Rodin’s lifetime. Its blend of eroticism and idealism makes it one of the great images of sexual love. However, Rodin considered it overly traditional, calling The Kiss ‘a large sculpted knick-knack following the usual formula.’ The couple are the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, who were slain by Francesca’s outraged husband. They appear in Dante’s Inferno, which describes how their passion grew as they read the story of Lancelot and Guinevere together. The book can just be seen in Paolo’s hand.

August 2004