Now, one of Auguste Rodin’s most famous — and erotic — statues, The Kiss, has gone on show in the seaside town of Margate in Kent, just a few miles along the coast from where it caused an extraordinary scandal when it was unveiled in the nearby town of Lewes almost 100 years ago.The vast sculpture of polished marble shows two naked lovers entwined in an embrace.
In her autobiography, the dancer Isadora Duncan recalled how Rodin tried to seduce her.
‘He ran his hands over my neck and breasts, stroked my arms and ran his hands over my hips, my bare legs and my feet,’ she wrote.
‘He began to knead my whole body as if it were clay, while from him emanated a heat which scorched me and melted me.’According to Rodin’s friend and biographer Judith Cladel, his female models found it an exhilarating experience working with him. what joy is my ceaseless study of the human flower.’The artist William Rothenstein had seen a smaller version of the statue in Paris and told Warren he would appreciate its ‘pagan sexuality’.
Rodin would talk to the girls all the time they were working, giving them precise instructions and recording everything that happened in his notebook. here the breath comes and goes like bees darting in and out of the hive . So Warren commissioned a more than life-size version to give his gay lover and a brotherhood of fellow aesthetes who lived at his home, Lewes House, a Queen Anne mansion near the High Street.
When she obeyed, he wrote rapturously: ‘The mouth, the luxurious protruding lips sensuously eloquent . For this he paid Rodin £1,000 (almost £100,000 today) on one condition — that the male would be, according to his own tactful description, ‘distinct and complete’.
As a lover of classical art, he wanted to reproduce Greek traditions as closely as possible.
The sculptor responded with a statue that left little to the imagination.
In 1903, Rodin himself paid a visit to the town to see where it would be located, then a year later he dispatched The Kiss itself.
Standing 8ft tall and weighing three and half tonnes, it was enormous — but there is some suggestion his erotic purchase disappointed Warren. Then in 1914, at the start of World War I, he lent it to the town hall — only to unleash an unexpectedly furious reaction.