Fact file: Rodin's The Kiss

  • 27 October 2011

Auguste Rodin's sculpture The Kiss, which was bought for the Tate collection with support from the Art Fund, is on display at Turner Contemporary until September next year. Find out more about the piece with our fact file.

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, 1901–4 Turner Contemporary

Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, 1901–4

Auguste Rodin's sculpture The Kiss, which was bought for the Tate collection with support from the Art Fund in 1953, is on display at Turner Contemporary in Kent until September next year. Find out more about the piece with our fact file:
 

  1. The Kiss exists in many versions. The pose first appeared in Rodin’s monumental sculpture The Gates of Hell and was subsequently used as the basis for several further works of art by the artist. Rodin believed the version in the Tate collection to be the finest of all.
     
  2. The sculpture was inspired by the Divine Comedy. The woman in the piece is Francesca da Rimini, an Italian noblewoman who fell in love with her brother-in-law. Her story is told in Dante’s Inferno, of which Rodin was a great admirer.
     
  3. The couple don’t actually kiss. Despite their intimate embrace (and the sculpture’s title), the couple’s lips don’t actually touch. Perhaps they were interrupted before they could kiss – in the Inferno, the couple are discovered and killed by da Rimini’s husband.
     
  4. Rodin didn’t make the sculpture himself. Rather than work directly in marble, Rodin preferred to create a small model from a more easily sculpted material such as plaster or bronze. His assistants would then create a scaled-up version in marble, with Rodin adding the final touches.
     
  5. If you wanted to see the sculpture in 1893, you had to apply personally. When The Kiss went on display at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, it was deemed unsuitable for the public. Anyone who wanted to view the piece had to submit an individual application.

See more Art Funded works by Auguste Rodin.

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