H. de Roos - Rodin´s Approach to Art


10. Love couples

Although Rodin called the composition of the Kiss rather conventional* and Paolo´s stiff attitude, the book still in his hand, was criticised by contemporaries, The Kiss shows a fulfilment of desire (and a lack of decorum) that many visitors of the 1886 Salon found disturbing;  for the gloomy atmosphere of The Gates, this embrace was too idyllic.

Other scenes featuring Paoloa and Francescsa are far from harmonious. In Fugitive Love (Fugit amor), the falling lovers reach for each other in despair. Passion is mixed with pain and fear, excitement hard to discern from agony. To a certain extent, the love couples reflect Rodin´s relationship with Camille Claudel.


The Kiss, marble, Musée Rodin

Fugitive love (Fugit amor), bronze,
30 x 51 x 19 cm, Musée Rodin
Click the image to enlarge it!


Around 1883, he had met the young sculptress; she became his model, Muse and mistress, his praticiènne and his artistic colleague. This intense friendship, that was to last for 15 years, had a decisive impact on Rodin´s life and art. Other works like Eternal Spring (1884), Fallen Angel (1885), The Danaid (1885-89), Death of Adonis (1888) and Eternal Idol (1889) show the changed direction Rodin´s work has taken. Although less dramatic than in Fugitive Love, in most of the pairs  an undertone of pessimism and sorrow remains, mirroring the impossible conditions of his passion for Camille. 


* "The embrace of The Kiss is undoubtedly very attractive", he acknowledged. "But I have found nothing in this group. It is a theme frequently treated in the academic tradition, a subject complete in itself and artifically isolated from the world surrounding it; it is a big ornament sculpted according to the usual formula and which focuses attention on the two personages instead of opening up wide horizons to daydreams."

  Paul Gsell, "Propos de Rodin sur l'art et les artistes", La Revue, 1 Nov. 1907




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