Occupation: Painter, Sculptor, Engraver
Movement: Les Nabis
Aristide Maillol's Famous Artworks
“La Montagne,” 1937
“La Riviere,” 1938-43
“Les Trois Nymphes,” 1930-37
“La Mediteranee,” 1900-02
“La Nuit,” 1902
“Monument a Paul Cezanne,” 1912-25
“L'Action enchainee,” 1905
Aristide Maillol was a French painter, engraver, and sculptor who began his career in textile and decorative arts before committing himself to sculpture in his later life. He is well-known for his studies developed around the female nude that drew influences from classical Greek and Roman sculpture, endowed with Mediterranean sensuousness.
Aristide Maillol's Early Life
Born in December 1861 in a village in the south of France
, Maillol was the last of five children born to Catherine Rouge and Raphael Maillol, a trader of fabrics. Though it is not clear why, the boy’s Aunt Lucy was responsible for his education, arranging for various tutors to supplement his attendance at the Lycee Saint-Louis de Gonzague.
In 1882, he gained admission to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where he studied under Jean-Leon Gerome. Here, he met and befriended the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. The latter would remain a close friend and colleague throughout. When he was a student, he also frequently visited the city museums and galleries.
A visit to the Cluny Museum was especially inspirational. Here, Maillol saw “The Lady and the Unicorn,” a tapestry in six parts dating from the 15th century. Considering his father’s background as a cloth merchant, it is not surprising that the delicate knitting of the piece inspired him to return to his hometown to open a weaving workshop. Though success was not immediate, in the mid-1890s, he married Clotilde Narcis and the couple had a son, Lucien, in 1896. When finances became a cause of worry, Bourdelle supported them without question.
Aristide Maillol's Career and Mid-life
Maillol’s creative direction changed when he suffered from an eye disease in 1900. Then he began working with mud and clay for the first time, using his family as models. He exhibited a series of sculptures
, including “Venus” or “Bathers Standing, Crouching,” at the Vollard Gallery in 1902 to great critical acclaim and media attention. In 1905, “Mediterranean” was displayed among Fauvist paintings at the Salon d’Automne and a copy in stone was immediately ordered by the German collector, Count Harry Kessler.
As the value of his work increased over the years, Maillol received numerous public and private commissions, including the monument to revolutionary politician Louis-Auguste Blanqui and “Tribute to Cezanne.” In 1910, Maurice Denis introduced his work to Russian collector Ivan Morozov, who eventually became a long-term patron. In the years in between the two World Wars, the artist began working with woodcuts as well, producing a series to illustrate ancient texts such as Virgil’s “The Eclogues,” Ovid's “The Art of Love” and Longus’ “Daphnis and Chloe.”
Aristide Maillol's Later Life
In 1934, while searching for new inspiration, Maillol met Dina Vierny, a woman who embodied his ideal sculptural model. She would become his main sitter for the next decade, assisting him with the creation of “The Mountain,” “The Air,” and “The River.” As World War II loomed ahead, he retired to Banyuls-sur-Mer with his family. A number of retrospectives followed, touring New York, Basel and Tokyo.
Aristide Maillol's Death and Legacy
Maillol died in a car accident in 1944, leaving a prolific body of work that can be viewed at the Musee Maillol in his hometown, as well as galleries
around the world. His voluptuous females influenced European sculpture, helping in paving the way for Abstract sculptors like Brancusi and Hans Arp. Art lovers can buy Aristide Maillol's artworks online.
Aristide Maillol's Major Exhibitions
1902 - Galerie Vollard, Paris
Aristide Maillol's Museums/Collections
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Louvre Museum, Paris
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Musee Maillol, Paris
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal
“Aristide Maillol” by Waldemar George
“Aristide Maillol” by Bertrand Lorquin and Dina Vierny
“Aristide Maillol” by Hermann Uhde-Bernays
“The Woodcuts of Aristide Maillol” by John Rewald
“Aristide Maillol + Maurice Denis” by Bettina Zeman
“Maillol” by Denys Chevalier
“Maillol” by John Rewald
“Aristide Maillol: The Artist and the Book” by Alan Wofst