Maillol's first ventures into sculpture were conceived on a small scale and executed in wood. However, in 1900 he started to explore other materials and began producing bronzes. Torse, conceived in 1900, was one of Maillol's earliest forays into the new medium. Until then, his works had been heavily influenced by his association with the Nabis. Maillol had painted colourful pictures superficially influenced by Gauguin, as well as exquisite but ultimately decorative tapestries. In sculpture, the influence of Gauguin took on a new shape; while Maillol's bronzes are not perhaps stylistically reminiscent of Gauguin's wood carvings, it is in Maillol's new sense of form and in his profound, almost religious, appreciation of his subject matter that Gauguin's influence is clear. Torse is a refined yet sensuous work, a testimony to female grace.
Maillol, like Gauguin, was interested in the artworks of other cultures, particularly Indian and Khmer temple sculpture. The key similarity between the two artists lay in what they gleaned from these other cultures - a new means of portraying reality, a stronger, more spiritual art that transcended mere figurative representation. Where so many styles of painting and sculpture follow fashions, investigations of the art of other cultures encouraged Maillol to seek a common denominator, a universal visual language.
One culture that especially influenced Maillol was ancient Greece - he adored the antiquities that the Greeks had left, finding in them a timeless grace and beauty. This led to him devising a concept of a universal art that was modern and yet retained a strong link with the past. Hence Torse, in its subject matter, harks back to a theme that has been handed down countless ages, and yet this new incarnation is fresh and novel. Maillol's women, invocations of a timeless sensuality, are devoid of 'meaning'. Instead, they play, not to interpretation, but to the eye and to emotion, monuments to beauty itself.