Francesca fell in love with her husband Giovanni ‘s younger brother, Paolo, with whom she carried on an affair. That is until Giovanni ultimately surprised them in Francesca’s bedroom and killed them both.
In this stunning painting by Ary Scheffer, Dante and Virgil meet Francesca and her lover Paolo in the second circle of hell, which is reserved for the lustful. Here, the couple is trapped in an eternal whirlwind, doomed to be forever swept through the air because they allowed themselves to be swept away by their passions.
Dante’s ‘Inferno’, canto V, 1855 by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)
The sculpture, The Kiss, was originally titled Francesca da Rimini, as it depicts the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalized in Dante’s Inferno (Circle 2, Canto 5) who falls in love with her husband Giovanni Malatesta’s younger brother, Paolo. Having fallen in love while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, the couple are discovered and killed by Francesca’s husband. In the sculpture, the book can be seen in Paolo’s hand. The lovers’ lips do not actually touch in the sculpture, suggesting that they were interrupted and met their demise without their lips ever having touched.
When critics first saw the sculpture in 1887, they suggested the less specific title Le Baiser (The Kiss).
I saw The Kiss when I was in Paris this past summer — it is EXQUISITE!!! It’s located in Musee’ Rodin – a beautiful museum with extraordinary gardens. The Kiss is located on the main floor in a brightly lit room and commands the attention of the visitors. If you should happen to visit at a time when the crowd is too heavy, step into the next room. There you’ll find the much smaller model that Rodin made before he sculpted the full-sized version.
The gardens are also filled with Rodin’s sculptures. The Thinker is prominently placed as are The Gates of Hell. I took several pictures of The Kiss, the gardens and a few of Rodin’s other sculptures and posted them here: https://instagram.com/alyssaauthor/
Hope you enjoy!