The story behind Rodin’s Kiss at the Wilson Art Gallery and Museum.

The newly extended Wilson Art Gallery and Museum in Cheltenham was opened six months ago. The extra space has enable visitors to explore highlights from the museums collections that were previously locked away in vaults.

The most exciting exhibition so far has been the Return of Rodin’s Kiss.  Auguste Rodin, the famous French sculptor, who visited Cheltenham in 1914 to visit his biographers’ sister and during his stay he came to see the Art Gallery and Museum. Then in 1933 Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum replied to an offer from the owner’s executors to have Rodin’s world famous sculpture on display in spite of the fact it had caused much controversy and had hardly been on display before.

The Kiss depicts the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalised in Dante’s Inferno who falls in love with her husband’s younger brother. 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, suggesting that they were interrupted and met their demise without their lips ever having touched.

This impressive exhibition continues until the 10th August. Several of our guests at Hilden House have been to see it and continue to be fascinated by the story.


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