Our northernmost erotic art lovers are in for a special treat courtesy of the Scottish National Gallery, which begins its exhibition of Auguste Rodin’s, The Kiss, this February.
The magnificent, larger-than-life marble sculpture of two naked lovers, entwined in a passionate embrace was first unveiled to widespread acclaim in 1898. Finished in 1904, this commissioned second piece depicts the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, who appear as characters in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
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.
Michael Clarke, Director of the Scottish National Gallery, said of the exhibition: “We are delighted that, Rodin’s great hymn to love is coming to Scotland. Rodin was a wonderfully gifted sculptor, technically brilliant, with an astonishing ability to model the human form with sensuous realism. The Kiss is rightly acknowledged as one of the greatest artistic evocations of desire ever created.”
The story of Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini has been the inspiration of numerous playwrights, composers and artists in the nineteenth century, and is also the subject of a much-loved painting in the Gallery’s collection, Francesca da Rimini (1837) by Sir William Dyce. 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.
“Rodin’s The Kiss exhibition reminds patrons that modern art, more than its successor, articulated the divine beauty and moral fragility of naked humanity with more passion and emotion than ever before or since,” said Erotica contributor, Sweetie Seymour, on review. “A must for all fine art lovers.”
The Kiss is on loan at the Scottish National Gallery from the Tate in London, giving Scotland and its visitors a rare opportunity to view the masterpiece for one year only.
Research credit: Jenna Seymour