Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

Torse du Printemps

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Torse du Printemps
signed with monogram (on the top of the base); numbered and inscribed with foundry mark '5/6 E.GODARD Fondeur PARIS' (on the back of the base)
bronze with green and brown patina
Height: 57 ½ in. (146 cm.)
Conceived in 1911; this bronze version cast in 1987
Perls Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, December 1984.
Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, The Collection of Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, March-May 2015, p. 34, no. 16 (illustrated in color, p. 35; titled Study for the Central Figure of "The Three Nymphs" and dated 1930).
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This Lot is Withdrawn.

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Lot Essay

Olivier Lorquin has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Torse du Printemps is a study for Le Printemps, one in the ensemble of four life-size female figures which Maillol created between 1909 and 1912 for Ivan Morosov, the renowned Russian collector of modern art. Commissioned to adorn the corners of a spacious neoclassical music room in Morosov's Moscow villa, this quartet of magnificently statuesque women consists of Le Printemps, a lithe, adolescent girl who is an allegory of spring; L'Été, a voluptuous representation of the abundance of summer; Flore, the Roman goddess of vernal blossoming; and Pomone, the goddess of fertility and fruit-bearing trees.
Although commonly known as Les Saisons, implying that Maillol’s figures adhere to the traditional sequence of cyclical yearly change, the sculptures should actually be understood—as Linda K. Kramer has pointed out—in relation to the suite of murals depicting the myth of Cupid and Psyche, as told in the second century story of Apuleius, that Maurice Denis painted for Morosov's concert room in 1906 (Aristide Maillol, Pioneer of Modern Sculpture, Ph.D. diss., New York University, 2000, pp. 154-159). Denis had recommended to Morosov that Maillol be given this four-figure commission; the sculptor commenced his preparatory work in late 1908. Echoing the mythical transformation of Psyche from a mortal into an immortal being, the four figures, according to Kramer, can be divided into two pairs of women, one of whom is human and mortal (Le Printemps and L’Été), and the other divine and eternal (Flore and Pomone). Each pairing contrasts a real with an idealized feminine presence.
The final versions of both Le Printemps and Flore hold garlands of flowers, representing the youthfulness of spring as the season unfolds in successive stages. Le Printemps, who is nude, has lifted the blossoms to her chest, as if to offer them to the spectator or to adorn herself. She personifies the season in its early, unfolding stage, offering promise of the fullness to come, like a young girl emerging from puberty. Flore, by contrast, is draped in a thin, clinging, full-length gown, and holds her garland across her upper thighs. She is springtime repletely manifest—her mature form embodies the fullness of vernal splendor. The metamorphosis of Psyche is thereby accomplished; the loveliness of the girl in her human form has attained the idealized beauty of immortal divinity, a poetic idea that mirrored, in Maillol’s view, the process by which the artist may transmute the substance of a naturalistic art into the forms and qualities that betoken the classical ideal.
Maillol selected Catalan women from his native town of Banyuls in the French Pyrénées-Orientales, including his fifteen-year-old maid Laura, to serve as his models. The sculptor found in their Mediterranean features and physiques the serene poise and noble bearing he admired in ancient art, the archaic phase of Greek sculpture during the sixth century B.C. especially, which he studied in the Louvre and encountered in its authentic Hellenic surroundings during a revelatory journey through Greece during the spring of 1908. This momentous experience affirmed Maillol's conviction that the Mediterranean culture of ancient Greece was in fact his own rightful artistic inheritance. His advocacy and transmission of this timeless tradition became his gift and legacy to modernism in the 20th century.
“To celebrate the human body, particularly the feminine body, seems to have been Maillol’s only aim,” John Rewald wrote. “He did this in a style from which all grandiloquence is absent, a style almost earthbound and grave. The absence of movement, however, is compensated by a tenderness and charm distinctly his own; and while all agitation is foreign to his art, there is in his work…such quiet grace and warm feeling that they never appear inanimate. He has achieved a peculiar balance between a firmness of forms which appear eternal and a sensitivity of expression—even sensuousness—which seems forever quivering and alive” (Maillol, London, 1939, pp. 6-7).

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