The Kiss Power Seduction and Perfection in Rodins Masterpiece 19th Century Sculpture



It is evidently clear from the discussion that the Kiss was originally supposed to depict an Italian noblewoman, who was featured prominently in Dante’s Inferno, name Francesca di Rimi. Francesca was in hell for falling in love with her husband’s brother, and eventually succumbing to the physical passion with him as well. Rodin originally wanted to use this as the name of the sculpture as well, before eventually settling on a much more general title in “The Kiss.” This more generalized title helps emphasize that Rodin wanted the messaging contained within the sculpture to be able to be generalized. The most prominent aspect of the form of the sculpture “The Kiss” is perfection: both people are highly idealized in nearly every way, while the content communicates interesting things about the role of gender in sexuality and power, and, to a certain extent, inverts ‘traditional’ gender roles in the expression of passion and sexuality. The first thing that becomes apparent when viewing the sculpture of “The Kiss” is that both figures depicted in it are highly idealized, especially when taken in ideals of Rodin’s time. The man has large, muscular frame narrowing to a narrow waist, while the woman has an hourglass physique, pleasing breasts, and smooth, shapely legs. The man’s muscles are tensed, demonstrating further his fulfillment of the masculine ideals of strength and ability, and also showing off his tone and mass for all to see. The woman’s figure is especially idealized considering the sensibilities of the late nineteenth century, where idealized women tended to have more fat on them than the modern, ultra-thin ideal. The perfection of the two forms is further enhanced by the pedestal they sit on – a roughly hewed stone, with a grainy texture and uneven appearance.