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Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge Sold to Benefit Columbia University "If it hadn't been for Columbia, my path would have been entirely different in life. Columbia gave me an opportunity, and the only way you can really repay that opportunity is for you to help someone else." -John W. Kluge at his 90th Birthday, sponsored by Columbia University From a young age, John W. Kluge recognized the value of an education. He devoted his formative years to building a strong foundation of learning that would come to inform so many of the successes that he continually achieved in his lifetime. It should come as little surprise that Kluge, as a 14 year old German immigrant, moved from his parent's home in Detroit, Michigan to his teacher's home in an effort to dedicate himself more fully to his education. This focus and drive eventually led him to Columbia University where he earned a scholarship and began a lifelong relationship with the university. As a corporate mogul Kluge sought opportunities and challenged himself to keep trying new things-much in the same way he approached his education. Although often associated with his enormous success with Metromedia, Kluge's undeniable dedication to his liberal arts background manifested itself most profoundly through his philanthropy. Once named America's richest man, John Kluge never focused on the dollars. Rather, the key to his success was rooted in an investment in knowledge: "Young entrepreneurs should spend an awful lot of time thinking about what they want to go into. The last thing you want to do is to invest money. You should have a fund of knowledge of something and out of that you make up your mind. Money is not a fund of knowledge." Kluge's lifestyle represented this "fund of knowledge" wholeheartedly--his business endeavors, his family and friends and his art collecting all point to a man who understood and emulated a diverse and informed lifestyle. Those who knew him well knew that everything had a place in his life and came to him through an innate curiosity matched with an indefatigable work ethic. It is therefore so fitting that the university that helped shape Kluge's future would be the place that he decided to give back. The collection being offered at Christie's is part of a $400 million gift by Kluge to Columbia University, earmarked exclusively for student scholarships. Mr. Kluge's gift to Columbia is the largest ever devoted exclusively to student aid at a single institution of higher education in the U.S. and represents his achievements, gratitude and hope for others to benefit from the university as he did. Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge Sold to Benefit Columbia University
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

Vénus (sans collier)

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Vénus (sans collier)
inscribed with monogram 'M' (on the top of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris' (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 68 in. (172.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1928 and cast between 1944 and 1952
Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner, 5 October 1990.
J. Rewald, Maillol, Paris, 1939, p. 165 (another cast illustrated, pl. 63).
W. George, Maillol, Paris, 1971, p. 21 (another cast illustrated, p. 22).
W. George, Aristide Maillol et l'âme de la sculpture, Neuchâtel, 1977, p. 245 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 121). B. Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, pp. 107 and 198 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 109).
L.K. Kramer, Aristide Maillol: Pioneer of Modern Sculpture, Ph.D. Diss., New York University, 2000, p. 211 (another cast illustrated, pl. 201).
Sale Room Notice
Please note this sculpture was between 1944 and 1952.

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Olivier Lorquin has confirmed the authenticity of this sculpture.

The present sculpture, a life-sized female nude with fleshy curves and an active contrapposto pose, occupied Maillol for a full decade in mid-career and represents a definitive statement of his aesthetic ideals. He conceived the sculpture in 1918 with the goal of producing a standing figure in a dynamic stance that would impart a greater sense of life than the static and self-contained compositions of his earlier years. He began by modeling the torso of the figure, which he then cast as an independent work--"one of the most accomplished pieces of sculpture in his entire oeuvre," according to Bertrand Lorquin (op. cit., p. 107; see Christie's, New York, 6 November 2008, lot 199). The torso is closely related to that of L'Eté, one of four life-sized female figures that Maillol had sculpted between 1910 and 1912 for the renowned Russian collector Ivan Morosov (see Christie's, New York, 4 May 2011, lot 17, and 1 November 2011, lot 15). Maillol repeated the undulating curve of the body and the lively swing of the hip that he had used with great success in L'Eté to create the impression of a young woman at the peak of her sexual maturity, dancing in the summer meadows. Maillol had been dissatisfied with the arms of L'Eté, however, and they continued to give him difficulty in his development of the present composition. He produced an armless version of the sculpture around 1922 and enlisted his maid Thérèse, a beautiful young Catalan woman, to pose over the course of four years in an effort to work out the final form. The head of the sculpture, he told Henri Frère, is her portrait: "She was tall with an admirable back, and very beautiful legs. And a pretty face, which one rarely sees. She had the most beautiful eyes that I ever saw" (quoted in L.K. Kramer, op. cit., p. 210).

Yet Maillol was unable to resolve the vexing problem of the gesture until his return to Marly in 1928 after a long winter's stay at Banyuls. He later recalled, "One fine day after fifteen years of this constantly renewed, constantly wasted labor... as I was standing in front of the statue which I had not set eyes on in six months, the line suddenly came to me" (quoted in B. Lorquin, op. cit., p. 107). The solution that Maillol eventually adopted is a graceful gesture, with both arms bent up at the elbows, the right hand facing out and the left hand turned inward. He had experimented with a similar pose around 1918 in a statuette that shows a woman holding a scarf. The scarf, which explains the position the hands, was replaced in Maillol's first version of the present composition by a necklace of pearls, a subtle reference to the mythical Venus rising from the sea. A plaster cast of the Vénus avec collier was exhibited to great acclaim in the 1928 Salon d'Automne and was subsequently acquired by the British State; the first bronze cast of the sculpture was purchased the same year by the prominent Swiss collectors Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser. The composition proved so popular that Maillol went on to produce a version without the necklace (the present sculpture), in which the left hand seems to beckon the viewer while the right hand counters with a gentle rebuff.

Both versions of Vénus highlight the selective and highly individual adoption of formal conventions from classical antiquity that characterizes Maillol's artistic process. Although the distinctive gesture has no close parallel in the ancient canon, the figure's compact bonnet of hair and emphatic facial features (the long and level brows, heavy lids, and strong jaw) recall the early fifth century BCE pedimental sculptures from Olympia that Maillol had admired on his seminal trip to Greece in 1908. The sculpture's nudity, undulating curves, and pronounced hipshot pose, in contrast, are derived from fourth century BCE statues such as Praxiteles's Aphrodite of Knidos, with their fusion of mortal and divine beauty. Linda Kramer has explained, "As a personification of his ideal of feminine beauty, both real and in abstract formal terms, Venus with a Necklace paralleled, but did not imitate, the idealized beauty of the statues of gods and goddesses made by the ancient Greeks. The majority of the French critics of the day understood this Venus in those terms. Claudel exclaimed, 'It is a goddess, but before all, it is a woman created for love and desire... It is she whom Maillol loves and admires in the secret of his artist's soul'" (op. cit., p. 210).

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