Conceived in 1884, this example was cast between 1908 and 1912. Between eighty and eighty-three casts of the present model were cast in this size by the Barbedienne foundry between 1898 and 1918. Rodin agreed a ten-year contract for the foundry to produce an unlimited edition of the model in 1898.
Along with the Kiss, the present work was originally conceived to represent the tragic love story of Paolo and Francesca, as told in Dante’s Inferno. Given the predominance of the front view of the work, it is possible the model was first intended to adorn the Gates of Hell. An image taken by Charles Bodmer in 1886, shows an early sketch for the work displayed in front of the frame for the Gates, perhaps lending weight to this hypothesis. Nevertheless, there is no documentary proof that Rodin ever intended the work to adorn his great portal.