H15044e — Mr E P Warren — ‘The Kiss’
Image 2: H07556 — Soldier’s Dinner at Town Hall Boxing Night, 1915
Image 3: H07556 — Soldier’s Dinner at Town Hall Boxing Night, 1915 — detail showing Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ at the rear of the hall, covered with a cloth
Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ was commissioned by E. P. Warren of Lewes House. In 1914 Warren loaned it to Lewes Town Council and it was installed at the South End of the Town Hall Assembly Room. The very same week the Assembly Room was requisitioned as a recreation room for troops. Regular boxing matches were also staged there. From 1915 the statue was wrapped in canvas and the Council eventually returned it to Warren stating that the room did “not lend itself to such a noble piece of statuary”.
“The Kiss was commissioned by Edward Warren, an eccentric and wealthy American who owned a grand house in Lewes, where he kept a renowned art collection. Warren paid Rodin £1,000 for the sculpture, carved out of a single four-tonne block of Pentelican marble, and specified that there must be no fig leaves, the man’s genitals must be fully carved and plainly visible. Rodin’s enthusiastic compliance was part of the problem. The sculpture went into Warren’s coach house for years, and was then loaned to the town hall — dragged the short distance on a trolley hauled by three men and four horses — where it was swathed in wrappings lest it inflame the passions of the soldiers billeted in the town on their way to the Somme.
In 1917 it went back into store after the council returned it with a polite note saying that the hall, used by the soldiers for social events and boxing matches, “did not lend itself to such a noble piece of statuary”.
Photo archive reveals hidden history of Rodin’s The Kiss