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The Kiss is one of Auguste Rodin's most renowned sculptures and the background to the piece comes from historic Italian literature.
Le Baiser, to give it its original French title, combines romance and tragedy. Gustav Klimt famously produced a painting of the same name and that featured a similar figurative embrace. Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini are the two besotted figures depicted in marble by Rodin here. The pair were later to be punished for deceiving Francesca's husband, who was also Paolo's brother.
Most of the world's most famous sculptures have been recast on multiple occasions, which is one advantage of this art form. It has also allowed multiple versions to be spread across the world, further promoting this respected art form. In truth, though, only versions produced by the artist himself would hold any great monetary or artistic value.
The well respected piece of literature, Dante's Inferno, was from where this scene appeared. Many artists have used passages from it as inspiration for paintings, drawings and sculptures. Sandro Botticelli even went to the lengths of producing illustrations for a publication of the very same work.
Rodin's Respect for the Female Body and Mind
The manner in which Auguste Rodin depicted women in his work was respectful and reflected their beauty. He would normally want them to be seen as equal to their male counterparts, which is unusual for artists from past centuries. In this sense he was ahead of French society as it was then.
The Different Versions of The Kiss
There were three versions made during the artist's life that were full scale. One is owned by the Tate in the UK, one can be found at the Musée Rodin and the third is in Copenhagen, Denmark. Each were separate commissions which remain relatively near to the locations of the original donors.