Sold with a photo-certificate from Olivier Lorquin.
Although Maillol followed Rodin in exploring the sculptural possibilities of the figure, he was one of the few great sculptors of the early 20th century who had not studied under him. His nascent style of balance, harmony, and quiet restraint represented a bold departure from the expressive gestures, dramatic movement, and textured surfaces that the older master favoured, which constituted the dominant force in European sculpture at the turn of the century.
John Rewald observed: ‘To celebrate the human body, particularly the feminine body, seems to have been Maillol’s only aim. 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 distinctively his own; and while all agitation is foreign to his art, there is in his work, especially in his small statuettes, such quiet grace and such 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’ (J. Rewald, Aristide Maillol, Paris, 1939, pp. 6-7).
The following lots encapsulate Maillol’s celebration of the female form. In Baigneuse torse (lot 303), Maillol presents the lithe, slender female figure – truncated at the shoulders and knees, her head tilted and her left hip raised in subtle contrapposto. Maillol has structured the figure around a unified series of smooth, graceful arcs – the rounded left hip, the gently rounded breasts and stomach, the compact bonnet of hair – that express the beauty of the female form in highly distilled, almost abstract terms. “I look for architecture and volumes,” Maillol explained to his biographer Judith Cladel. “I always start from a geometric figure, square, lozenge, triangle, because these are the figures which hold best in space” (quoted in L. Kramer, op. cit., 2000, p. 79).
Maillol modelled the figure of Dina Vierny (lot 304) during 1937. Dina was the artist's last muse and posed as a model for him until his death in 1944. Petit nuit (lot 305) was one of the earliest of Maillol's sculptural compositions. Crouching, her head resting on her arms which are themselves on her knees, the woman in Petit nuit appears to be sleeping. Certainly, the fact that her face is hidden from view and is turned down, creating a sense of interiority, adds to the notion that this sculpture somehow embodies, rather than merely represents, the night.