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Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill

Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill
signed ‘Aristide Maillol’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
59 3⁄8 x 40 3⁄8 in. (150.9 x 102.4 cm.)
Painted in 1888-1889
Albert Faraill, Nancy, by whom commissioned from the artist.
Jeanne Faraill [the sitter], Nancy, by descent from the above, until at least 1953.
Galerie Lorenceau, Paris.
Acquired from the above on 7 November 1962, and thence by descent to the present owners.
W. Slatkin, Aristide Maillol in the 1890s, Michigan, 1976, no. 3, pp. 25 & 26 (illustrated; titled 'Young Girl in Red: Portrait of Jeanne Sarrail'; dated '1890').
C. Breker, Der frühe Maillol, Würzburg, 1992, no. 9, pp. 79 & 195.
M. Hoog, 'Maillol peintre, Précisions sur quelques tableaux et sur les débuts de sa carrière à Paris (1889)', in Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art français, Paris, 1994, no.1, pp. 253 & 256 (illustrated p. 254).
Paris, Salon des Artistes Français, Spring 1890, no. 1573.
Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Maillol: Peintures-dessins, March 1953, no. 2 (titled 'Portrait de fillette en pied').
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Aristide Maillol: 1861-1944, December 1975 - March 1976, no. 2, p. 35 (illustrated; titled 'Young Girl in Red (Portrait of Mlle. Sarrail)').
Berlin, Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Aristide Maillol, January - May 1996, no. 3, p. 199 (illustrated p. 74); this exhibition later travelled to Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, May - September 1996; Bremen, Gerhard Marcks-Haus, October 1996 - January 1997 and Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, January - March 1997.
Paris, Musée Maillol - Fondation Dina Vierny, Maillol Peintre, June - October 2001, no. 12, p. 60 (illustrated p. 61).
Paris, Musée d’Orsay, Aristide Maillol (1861-1944): La quête de l’harmonie’, April - August 2022, no. 37, p. 48 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Kunsthaus, October 2022 - January 2023 and Roubaix, La Piscine - Musée d'Art et d'Industrie André Diligent, February - May 2023.
Further details
Olivier Lorquin has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Keith Gill
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Lot Essay

Between the close of the 1880s through to 1894, Aristide Maillol worked on a series of commissioned portraits for the sculptor Gabriel Faraill; the two had met when Maillol was studying in Perpignan. Faraill had six daughters he wanted portraits of and, as if this were not a big enough task, he also introduced Maillol to his wealthy nephew Albert Faraill, who wanted a painting of his young daughter Jeanne. The resulting portrait is a remarkable and sincere depiction, a delicate image that captures Maillol's interests in both the fine and decorative arts.
By this point, Maillol had been living in Paris for almost a decade. He had first moved to the French capital in 1881 to apply for a spot at the École des Beaux Arts; it would be four years before he was accepted. Once there, he studied under Alexandre Cabanel and Jean-Léon Gérôme but grew to dislike the rigid, academic style they espoused. Following an encounter with works by Paul Gauguin on display at the Café Volpini, Maillol began to reconceive his idiom. The two artists also developed a rapport, with Gauguin eventually suggesting that Maillol join the Nabis, the group of young artists whose paintings incorporated elements of Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Influenced by the aesthetics of Japanese art, particularly those of woodblock prints, these artists developed an idiom which melded pattern, colour, and space as a means of expressing the decorative. In their endeavour to overturn the conventional hierarchy of genres, which had for so long governed academic art, they sought to unite art and craft.
Like his Nabis contemporaries, including Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, Maillol too shared an interest in the decorative arts, particularly that of weaving, evident in the lushly ornamental fabrics of Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill. In the years following the completion of the painting, he opened a small studio in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, near to the border with Spain. Hoping to fabricate tapestries but helpless when it came to sewing itself, Maillol employed several craftswomen with whom he collaborated: he designed and drew the imagery and they sewed the textiles. The colour of his tapestries was a paramount concern for the artist and he was disappointed to discover that chemical dyes faded. As a result, Maillol began to teach himself about botany to learn how to create his own natural dyes from the plants he foraged around Banyuls-sur-Mer. In 1894, he included one of his tapestries in the Groupe des Vingts show in Brussels about which Gauguin wrote: ‘…the tapestry exhibited by Maillol cannot be too highly praised’ (P. Gauguin quoted in J. Rewald, Maillol, New York, 1939, p. 11).
Maillol’s pronounced taste for the decorative is evident in Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill. There is an immense wealth of detail in the painting, from the sheen on the Mary Jane shoes to the floral adornment of the plant pot and the lavish rug. The background curtain is adorned with delicate flowers whose stitch marks are just visible. Beyond the objects within the painting itself, however, Maillol’s approach underscores his devotion to the decorative. His parallel brushwork, which at times echoes that of the Impressionists, remains uniform throughout the work, and he clearly considers the relationship between and ‘integration of the model and background’ (E. Bégué, ‘Portraits de profil ou “le dédain du banal”’ in Maillol, exh. cat., Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 2022, p. 47).
Indeed, part of the magic of Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill is the painting’s heightened sense of verisimilitude, and it is likely that Maillol worked from a photograph. By 1889, when the painting was executed, studio portraiture was widespread and popular, and the well-to-do Faraills would surely have had a photograph taken of their daughter. With its ever so slightly raised edge, the hanging curtain behind Jeanne evokes the backdrops so often found in photography studios. Her fierce countenance and stance too suggest a posed image, and to compensate for the camera’s long exposure, Jeanne would have been asked to hold still for a significant period of time. Despite the medium’s initial limitations, it was the ‘development of portrait photography [that] ushered in the democratization of individual representation’ (P. Alarcó, The Impressionists and Photography, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, 2019, p. 179). By the 1880s, technical advancements had simplified the practice, ensuring that photography – previously only available to specialists – was now accessible to millions. While in his paintings of Jeanne’s cousins, the six Faraill daughters, Maillol endeavoured to ‘create an archetype of a young girl who is distant and inaccessible’, in the present work, Jeanne instead appears as a living, breathing person (op. cit., 2022, p. 47). Here is a portrait that has captured the thoughts, dreams, and daring aspirations of its sitter – the painting, in short, represents a soul.

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