Sculpture has always been a medium ideally suited to reproductions, with original moulds being able to be reused to create multiple new versions in all manner of different materials. Crucially, the quality of each variant will depend on the involvement of the original artist himself, with many following after their death. Without their input, any reproduction will simply never realistically manage to achieve the same level of authenticity or artistic quality. That makes this version at the Tate all the more important. The other two life-size versions made during his own lifetime can now be found at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen and Musée Rodin in Paris.
This version was constructed from Pentelican marble and weighs 3180 kg. The Tate purchased this item in 1953 with the aid of several British art charities whose aim was to protect British art and encourage more international masterpieces to become part of the ownership of the nation. There are always discussions within these institutions as to which purchases would be most advisable but anything linked to the career of Auguste Rodin will always be respected and desired, internationally.
The scene depicts two lovers - Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini - who are ultimately punished for their romantic liason. Their unfaithful behaviour was outlined in the literature of Dante who himself is known to have inspired many artists since the early Renaissance. Dante's own book is actually included within this sculpture that helps art historians to confirm the thinking of Rodin as he put this work together.