Paolo and Francesca
Paolo and Francesca is one of only two direct references in The Gates of Hell to the “Inferno” portion of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante encounters the couple in the second circle of Hell, where carnal sinners are punished. There, the condemned and slain pair, whose love was unconsummated, are together forever, constantly reminded of their first kiss but unable to satisfy their most passionate desires. Francesca confesses to Dante that there is “no greater grief than to recall a bygone happiness.” Rodin accentuated their eternal frustration by inserting a mass between their writhing bodies.
For Paolo’s yearning and tender face, Rodin reused his small Head of Sorrow (seen nearby).
before 1886, cast 1981
11 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 10 5/8 in. (29.8 x 59.1 x 27.0 cm)
On base, below female figure's buttocks:
".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur. Paris."
On shelf supporting male figure's extended foot: "© by Musée Rodin 1981"
Behind male figure: "A. Rodin No 4"
This item is not on view
Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
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