Auguste Rodin’s magnificent marble sculpture comes to Edinburgh on year-long loan from Tate Britain. Rodin is widely regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the 19th century and this life-size evocation of love is amongst his most famous works.
Having first shown The Kiss to huge popular acclaim in 1898, Rodin was commissioned to make this second version, which was completed in 1904. It depicts the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, who appear as characters in Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Dante relates how the couple’s passion grew as they read together the story of Lancelot and Guinevere (the book can just be seen in Paolo’s hand), but they were discovered and murdered by Francesca’s outraged husband, Paolo’s older brother Giancotto.
The story inspired many playwrights, composers and artists in the nineteenth century, and is the subject of a much-loved painting in the Gallery’s collection, Francesca da Rimini (1837) by Sir William Dyce.
Three full-scale marble versions of The Kiss were made in Rodin’s lifetime, and the sculptor also made smaller versions in plaster, terracotta and bronze. Such was allure of The Kiss that hundreds of bronze copies were produced by the Barbedienne foundry. As a result, this spectacular sculpture has become one of the most instantly recognised and best-loved works of art in the world.