Old Master Paintings

Auguste Rodin's 'The Kiss'

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), Le Baiser (The Kiss). Lot 1009. Auction Nov 9, 2021.
The Kiss


Aline Meyer Liebman

NEW YORK, NY -- The composition that we now know as The Kiss (Le Baiser) was originally composed as a figural group to be included in Rodin's  monumental bronze portal The Gates of Hell, which was commissioned in 1880 as the entrance to a museum of the decorative arts. The embracing lovers were intended to portray Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, whose story of forbidden love and eternal damnation was immortalized in Canto V of Dante's Inferno. In 1886 Rodin removed the group from the Gates of Hell -- its lyrical sensuality seemed inconsistent with the project's overall theme of divine justice -- and reconfigured it as a freestanding work. In 1888 the French Government commissioned a large-scale version of the composition in marble, which was exhibited at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts to enormous acclaim. Other versions in marble were made by Rodin's workshop in the following years. In 1898 Rodin entered into an agreement with the Leblanc-Barbedienne foundry to publish an edition of the composition in bronze in various sizes, of which this piece is one. The Kiss remains to this day one of Rodin's most iconic and best-loved works.

This is the earliest Barbedienne cast of The Kiss known to the Comité Rodin to have come to the United States, and the only one shown in a period photograph (see above). Its provenance is particularly distinguished, including the financier Eugene Isaac Meyer, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, President of the World Bank and publisher of the Washington Post, and other members of his family. After being purchased from the sale of the collection of Aline Meyer Liebman and her husband in 1955, it has remained in the family of the present owner until today.

Impressionist & Modern Art

Auction Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 11am
Exhibition November 6-8

Highlighting the sale of Impressionist & Modern Art is an important cast bronze of Auguste Rodin's The Kiss.

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Portrait of specialist Elaine Banks Stainton
Senior Specialist, Paintings & Drawings
Old Master Paintings
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