Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Torse de l'été
signed with monogram and numbered '6/6' (on the top of the base); stamped with foundry mark 'C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the back of the base)
bronze with green and brown patina
Height: 55 in. (139.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1911 and cast in the artist's lifetime
Dina Vierny, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, by 1989.
W. George, Aristide Maillol, London, 1965, pp. 188 and 231 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 193; dated 1930).
B. Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, p. 74 (marble version illustrated in situ in the artist's studio, p. 177).

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Lot Essay

The late Dina Vierny confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Torse de l’été is related to a group of four life-sized female figures, commonly known as Les Saisons, that Maillol created between 1909 and 1912 for Ivan Morosov, the renowned Russian collector of modern art, to adorn the corners of the neoclassical music room in his Moscow villa. The Morosov commission was comprised of two pairs of sculptures, each juxtaposing mortal and divine beauty. The delicate Flore and the lithe, adolescent Printemps together evoke the fragile blossoms of spring, while the fullness of the harvest is embodied in Pomone, the Roman goddess of fruit trees, and the voluptuous Été, a ripe young woman at the height of fecundity. These works, now in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, were intended to complement the suite of paintings being created by Maurice Denis at the same time, the Histoire de Psyché. For the duration of this project, the two artists, both of whom knew each other, not least through their mutual connection with the Nabis, appear to have worked in parallel on their respective projects, visiting and consulting each other. Linda Kramer has written, "These figures represent the luscious flowering beauty that Maillol found the most attractive aspect of both young women and nature, while also offering him the opportunity to associate his ideal of feminine beauty with that of goddesses" (quoted in Aristide Maillol: Pioneer of Modern Sculpture, Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2000, pp. 155-156).
Bertrand Lorquin writes of the present Torse de l’été that “Several versions of Summer are known to exist…the most famous being an armless and headless Torso. The twisting movement of the hips is expressed with a total freedom that seems to bring the torso alive with an undulating movement from top to bottom” (Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, p. 74).
By omitting the arms and head on his sculptures, Maillol emphasized the nude figure’s timeless, classicizing grace. A passionate admirer of antiquity and frequent visitor to the Greek galleries in the Louvre, Maillol appreciated the famous Venus de Milo–which originally held in one hand the golden apple that the mythical prince Paris had awarded the goddess–all the more because it was preserved without arms, which he believed “would add nothing to its beauty; on the contrary they would probably detract from it” (quoted in ibid., p. 112). The seductive power of the present sculpture is conveyed through the figure's ample hips which sway to the side, allowing the voluptuous figure to shift her weight onto her left leg. The absence of the head and arms makes the feminine form the central focus.

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