Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss to go on show in Scotland next year

Auguste Rodin's The Kiss is coming to Scotland in 2013. Picture: PA
Auguste Rodin's The Kiss is coming to Scotland in 2013. Picture: PA
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ONE of the world’s most iconic sculptures is to go on show in Scotland next year, it was announced today.

The Kiss, French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s famous piece, will be coming north on loan from Tate Modern in London to the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh in February.

The 12-month loan of the work - described by experts at the National Galleries of Scotland as the artist’s “great hymn to love” - will coincide with the start of work on a £1 million revamp of the famous gallery on The Mound.

Its entire glass roof is to be replaced, new energy-saving roof lights are being installed and the interior of the gallery is to be redecorated for the first time in more than two decades.

The first version of the larger-than-life marble sculpture of two naked lovers locked in an embrace of forbidden love was commissioned by the French States in 1887 and is still on display in the city, at the Musee Rodin.

Rodin’s sculpture is the second version of The Kiss that he created, in 1904, after being commissioned by American art collector, Edward Perry Warren, while he was living in Sussex, England.

The piece was inspired by the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, characters from Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy.

Their tragic story inspired many playwrights, composers and artists in the nineteenth century, and is the subject of a much-loved painting in the Scottish National Gallery’s collection, Francesca da Rimini (1837) by Sir William Dyce.

The arrival of The Kiss is expected to attract huge crowds to the gallery, despite the prospect of refurbishment work being carried out.

It was a huge hit when it went out on tour in Margate, in Kent, and in Liverpool, during its European Capital of Culture celebrations, in recent years.

The sculpture, which was bought up by the Tate in 1955, will be moved around the main floor of the gallery to allow the work on the new doubled-glazed panels and LED lighting to be installed. The £1 million project is being entirely funded by the Scottish Government.

A spokesman said The Kiss would be located in three different sections of the gallery during its 12-month stay, adding: “We’re very keen to make sure, despite the refurbishment, that there will be a lot going on and a great deal to see – it’s very much business as usual.

Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery, said: “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.”

Meanwhile, plans for a major exhibition of work of the celebrated 19th century American landscape painter Frederic Church at the same gallery next year have been unveiled.

Running from May-September, Through American Eyes, will celebrate the artist’s career, which took him to locations as varied as the Arctic Circle, Ecuador, Jordan, Jamaica and Bavaria.

The spokesman for NGS, which has joined forces with the National Gallery in London to stage the exhibition, said: “The exhibition will reflect Church’s pioneering and adventurous spirit and highlight the significance of his achievement: in a time before National Geographic and David Attenborough, Church’s paintings of the Arctic, South America, Europe and the Middle East drew great crowds keen to see the visual wonders of the world beyond their reach.”