Dina Vierny has confirmed the authenticity of this bronze.
During the early 1890s Maillol was most deeply involved with painting and making tapestries. He had carved some reliefs and statuettes in wood, but he did not turn to sculpture as his primary means of expression until an eye inflammation he contracted in 1898 caused him to close his tapestry workshop. He modeled clothed and nude female figures in clay and terracotta, yielding detail to simplification of form and surface. He imbued his young female models (most frequently his wife Clothilde) with a simple grace and charm which critics at first mistook for superficiality of temperament or want of a sophisticated technique.
The woodcarvings of Gauguin had an influence on Maillol's earliest reliefs, but by the late 1890s Maillol was seeking his inspiration elsewhere. He admired the serene and static art of the Egyptians. He was intrigued by Khmer sculpture he had seen in the Universal Expositions in Paris in 1889 and 1900. Gauguin had rejected the art of classical Greece, and although Maillol also had little interest in the naturalistic tradition of Greek sculpture at its peak, the primitivism of the earlier archaic period attracted him. However, it was not until his first visit to Greece in 1903 that he fully responded to the impact of Greek sculpture, and by then it served as more a confirmation of a path he had already taken rather than as a revelation of an unsuspected world of beauty. Maillol said, "I prefer the still primitive art of Olympus to that of the Parthenon...It is the most beautiful thing that I have seen; it is more beautiful than anything else in the world. It is an art of synthesis, a higher art than ours today, which seeks to represent the human flesh. If I had lived in the 6th century I should have found happiness in working with those men" (quoted in J. Rewald, Maillol, op. cit., p. 17).
The present work shows how quickly Maillol's conception of the figure matured, forging a style that would evolve with greater subtlety in later years, yet would always remain true to fundamental ideas of form and subject. The figure is casually posed, fresh and immediate in appeal. Despite its title, the figure seems remarkably free of any onerous conception of sin, or the usual negative connotations that accrued to Eve in fin de siècle century painting and sculpture. "...Eve Holding the Apple is clearly the most accomplished expression of this series of experiments and is remarkable for the way it combines classical sobriety with a very clean treatment of the figure" (B. Lorquin, op. cit., p. 38).