Marie was conceived as the central figure for Les trois nymphes (1930-1938) and was the first of the three figures to be completed. Using as his model his maid Marie, the simple, smooth contours of the present work suggest a form of idealized beauty. There are no unnecessary details, no complicated gestures.
In his quest for beauty through the perfection of line and simplicity of form, Maillol continually revised and refined the female form. Maillol's patron, and the man who did the most to encourage Maillol's commercial success, Count Harry Kessler, recounted a visit to the Louvre when he and Maillol stopped stopped to look at a torso of Venus in which the details had been gently eroded from so many years in the sea:
This figure shows one what is the essential plastic quality of a work of art. A sculpture must be beautiful even after the original surface has been lost and it has been worn down like a sea-shell. This means that the essence of beauty endures all the same when one is in the presence of a true sculpture which possesses the miracle of harmony between its masses (H. Kessler, Maillol, exh. cat., Goupil Gallery, London, October 1928, quoted in B. Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, New York, 1995, p. 111).