(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1917, Meudon)
Marble, 182 x 122 x 153 cm
Musée Rodin, Paris
This is one of three full-scale versions of The Kiss made in Rodins lifetime. Its blend of eroticism and idealism makes it one of the great images of sexual love. 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. In the sculpture, the book can be seen in Paolo's hand.
The embracing couple depicted in the sculpture appeared originally as part of a group of reliefs decorating Rodin's monumental bronze portal The Gates of Hell, commissioned for a planned museum of art in Paris. The couple were later removed from the Gates and replaced with another pair of lovers located on the smaller right-hand column.
Before creating the marble version of The Kiss, Rodin produced several smaller sculptures in plaster, terracotta and bronze.