Dina Vierny has confirmed the authenticity of this sculpture.
In 1912 Maillol received a commission from Frantz Jourdain, the founder of the Salon d'Automne, and friend of Paul Cézanne, who had died six years earlier, for a monument to be dedicated to the late master of Aix-en-Provence. However, the committee was unable to solicit sufficient funds for the project or agree on the details, and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 ended their plans. Maillol, however, who regarded Cézanne as "the genius of modern painting" (quoted in J. Rewald, op. cit., p. 19), kept the idea alive, and returned to it following the end of the war in 1918.
Maillol had already made several preparatory studies, in which he tried out and rejected several reclining poses, including those seen in many of the smaller studies, in which one leg is raised significantly higher than the other. By 1920 the sculptor had arrived at its definitive state. The figure of girl, recumbent, lifted her hand, offering a bunch of olive branches. With one leg bent slightly higher than the other, she reclined on a flowing drapery, as if she were resting in the current of a river, as a symbol of passing time. The connection to Cézanne had become clear--she might be seen as a bather, one of Cézanne's best-known subjects. Her forms are classical, having been rendered in simple, unadorned volumes, in keeping with Cézanne's conception of form as Maillol understood it. The antique stylization of the girl's hair also carried connotations of the ancient Roman origins of Provençal culture. Maillol drew on the sense of serenity and repose in this work, as well as the motif of the olive branch, for a tribute to French war dead, his Monument de Port-Vendres, 1921-1923.
The final version in stone was ready by 1925. There is a large painting by Edouard Vuillard that shows Maillol at work on it (fig. 1); this was based on study that Vuillard made while the sculpture was in progress (Salomon and Cogeval, no. XI-116; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris). Maillol had hoped that the citizens of Aix would install the sculpture by the fountain in the town square, believing that the setting and surrounding space was crucial to the harmony of his design. His plans fell through, however, and the town rejected the monument. Gaston Doumergue, the president of France, intervened, and had the state acquire it for the city of Paris. In October 1929 the stone version of the Monument à Cézanne was finally installed, between the double ramps that lead to the terrace of the Orangerie in the Jardins des Tuileries. It was replaced by a version in lead in 1943; the stone sculpture is presently in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. A bronze version from the present edition was installed in 1964 near the Carrousel in the Jardins des Tuileries, as one of eighteen large sculptures that Dina Vierny donated to the French state.
(fig. 1) Edouard Vuillard, Aristide Maillol, 1931-1934, reworked 1936-1937. Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.Barcode 23668270