Aristide maillol

– sculptures with a natural air of harmony

“I find form pleasing and that is what I create; but for me it is only a way of expressing the idea. It is ideas that I am looking for. I use form to reach what is without form. I strive to convey what is not palpable, what cannot be touched.” – Aristide Maillol

Aristide Maillol is regarded as one of the most acclaimed French sculptors of the 1900’s. His fascinating life and career summarises an oeuvre that has made a great impact on his contemporaries and been a source of inspiration for the following generation of artists and art lovers. His figures; realistic, symmetrical and highly archetypical, are a tribute to the female body and the sculptures are appreciated for their natural air of harmony, simplicity and grace.

Born in Banyuls-sur-Mer in 1861, Maillol was from a very young age convinced he would devote his life to the arts. At the age of fourteen he completed his first painting and the foundation of his artistic education was achieved at the Museum of Perpignan where he took drawing lessons. The choice to become a painter was obvious and he decided to follow his dreams to Paris in 1882. For several years he applied to the École des Beaux-Arts and finally he was admitted in 1885. During these years he was living a severely harsh life in poverty which caused illness and times of hospitalisation.

However, after some time he was not satisfied with the education since he found his teachers too strictly tied to the academism. Instead, he was more influenced by exhibitions of works by Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis who encouraged and introduced Maillol to the world of tapestries and in 1895 he set up his own workshop in Banyuls. Maillol was surrounded by many of his artist friends, friendships that would remain throughout his life, among these the ”Nabis”; Denis, Roussel, Vuillard, Bonnard and Henri Matisse. During the following years Maillol exclusively worked as a sculptor, primarily in terracotta, his works often depicted in paintings by his friends.

Maillol’s first solo exhibition was arranged by Ambroise Vollard in his gallery on Rue Laffitte in Paris in 1902, two years later he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne for the first time. At this time Maillol was introduced to the wealthy art collector Count Henry Kessler by some of his friends, among these Auguste Rodin, and Maillol later described this as ”one of the great fortunes of my life”. Kessler acquired several of his works and became his greatest patron. The great break-through, however, came in 1910 when Maillol exhibited his ”Pomone” at the Salon d’Automne, it was admired as one of the highlights of the exhibition in the international reviews. This opened the doors to the rest of the world and during the following years Maillol exhibited in New York, London, Berlin and Basel.

At the peak of his career, Maillol met the 15 year old Dina Vierny for the first time in 1934. She became his model, dear friend and collaborator throughout the rest of Maillol’s life. In 1944 Aristide Maillol passed away in the aftermath of a car accident in Banyuls. Dina Vierny is the person we owe gratitude to, for establishing a foundation to administer his estate and for creating the museums in Paris and Banyuls-sur-Mer dedicated to Maillol.

This sale includes two bronzes by Aristide Maillol. They were both conceived in the year 1900 and cast by the dealer Ambroise Vollard during the lifetime of Maillol; lot 967 ”Jeune fille se voilant les yeux”, and lot 968 ”Jeune fille accroupie” that was acquired by the present owner’s father at Galerie Pierre in Stockholm in 1962.