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Last updated: 12--11-14
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Aristide Maillol (French, 1861-1944)

Maillol / Maillol 2: Sanguine lithographs / Maillol 3: lithographs
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Prints and Drawings: Prints by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Charles Camoin,
Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Henri Edmond Cross, Edgar Degas, Sonia Delaunay, Maurice Denis, André Derain,
Susanne Duchamp, Raoul Dufy, Jean-Louis Forain, Paul Gauguin, Marie Laurencin, Aristide Maillol, Edouard Manet,
Henri Matisse, Berthé Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Georges Rouault, Ker Xavier Roussel, Paul Signac,
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon, Maurice de Vlaminck, James A. McNeill Whistler, and others.

Drawings by Albert Besnard, Andre Barbier, Henri Edmond Cross, Jean-Louis Forain, Eva Gonzales, Marie Laurencin,
Maximilien Luce, and Georges Rouault.

Hand-colored prints by Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Sonja Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

For a review of the show that concludes, "Art exhibits in Madison rarely get this good," click review.
Aristide Maillol (French, 1861-1944) began as a tapestry designer attracted to the Nabis, but after c. 1900 he concentrated on sculpture and book illustration (particularly of classical texts like Vergil's Georgics, Ovid's Ars Amoris (Art of Love), Lucian of Samosata's Dialogues des Courtisanes [2nd-century AD], and Longus' Daphnis and Chloe. Although Maillol was briefly involved with the Nabis group (Bonnard, Denis, Vuillard and others), he was soon drawn to sculpture and by 1900, he had attracted the attention of Ambroise Vollard, premier dealer for the Impressionists, Post Impressionists, and soon the moderns, including Picasso, Chagall, and Rouault. In 1902, Vollard gave Maillol his first exhibition, featuring his tapestries and his terra cotta sculptures. Vollard had bronze casts made of these and Rodin was an admirer of his Leda, paving the way for his much larger marbles and bronzes. As Antoinette Le Normand-Romain suggests in her essay on Maillol in The Grove Dictionary of Art, when Maillol began devoting most of his artistic energy to sculpture, he quickly came to realize that verisimilitude was not his goal: "In 1900 Maillol began work on his first major sculpture, a Seated Woman for which his wife posed, which was later named La Méditerranée. The first version (New York, MOMA), finished in 1902, was very close to his model. He noted, however, that it was not sufficient ‘to have a model and to copy it. No doubt nature is the foundation of an artist’s labours. But art does not lie in the copying of nature’ " (Puig, 1965). Thus he resumed work and the definitive version was exhibited at the Salon d’Automne of 1905. He wanted the only meaning of this sculpture to reside in its formal beauty. With his acute sensitivity to form, he tightened the composition, which had been developed from a single viewpoint, into an almost perfect cube, simplifying the contours in the process. The sobriety and perfection of the form and gravity of La Méditerranée struck Octave Mirbeau and Maurice Denis as well as André Gide, who wrote (1905) of its ‘silence.’ All three saw Maillol as a classic artist in the mould of Cézanne" (20: 119-21, here at 121). Maillol achieved his desire and became one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. His drawings and lithographs are highly sought after as well. Maillol's works can be found in many major museums (e.g., the Museum of Modern Art features two of his sculptures in their sculpture garden and owns a total of 30 works by him including drawings, lithographs, and his woodcuts for livres d'artiste.

Much of Maillol's later history is involved with his last model, Dina Vierny (French, 1919-2009), whom he first met in c. 1934, when she was still a teenager. Attracted by her intelligence (as Waldemar Georges observes, "Reading was her passion, and although she chose to study chemistry she was equally attracted to politics, economics, sociology, and the humanities. Her mind was influenced and her spirit tempered by contact with the great poets" (29), he was struck by her ideas as much as her physical attributes. When Maillol met her (at the recommendation of the future architect of the Musée d'art moderne) "Dina's physical type and facial structure corresponded to Maillol's aesthetic canon, and it was this similarity which aroused the artist's interest" (30-31). For the first two years, she posed for the head only after which she began posing for him for his nudes. "Dina . . . was to bring Maillol the flexibility, balance, and intellectual attitudes which corresponded to his views of the world" (30). In 1938, she spent much time with him: "Maillol admitted that poetry was food and drink to him and together with Dina he read not only the classics of Greece and Rome, which he illustrated, but also Les Chants de Maldorer, Les Fleurs de Mal, Les Illuminations, and the work of Mallarmé and Valery." Dina also introduced him to Freud, Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. George observes that some of what they read conflicted with Maillol's artistic and moral sense; some of them bored him, but all of them brought him more firmly into the "modern" world's concerns, which quickly became personally acute after the Nazi invasion of France. Food became scarce, his wartime diet was seriously diminshed, and Dina and Maillol's son Lucien daily walked miles to try to buy him food on the black market and Dina several times crossed the border into Spain to buy oil for his lamps (p. 32) She also served as his messenger, carrying letters to Bonnard, Matisse, and Raoul Dufy, for all of whom she also posed. In addition to her artistic activities, however, she was also engaged in the Resistance. According to George, Dina "built up a small network to enable the Resistance and refugees from Germany to escape over the Spanish frontier." Maillol aided her in this by letting her use one of his studios as a hiding place for refugees (who included Thomas Mann's son, Franz Werfel, and André Breton) to escape occupied France . The Vichy government heard of this and confined her under house arrest. Maillol hired a lawyer who managed to get the court to release her. He also showed her some safer routes to use when smuggling people out of France and supplies into it. She soon went to Paris, where she was arrested by the Gestapo and spent six months in prison. To keep her safe, Maillol sent her to Matisse for whom she also posed. After the libertation of Paris, it was impossible for her to get back to Maillol's house and it was in Paris that she heard about Maillol's death in an automobile accident.

After Maillol's death her involvement with his art only deepened. Maillol had made his son Lucien and Dina responsible for his works and Maillol's family invited Dina to return to the family home. After his mother's death, Lucien made over all of his rights to her. She opened a gallery at 36 rue Jacob in Paris, now the scene of the Musée Maillol and the Fondation Dina Vierny. She was soon recognized legally as the only expert on Maillol's works and her classification of his sculptures has become the basis for modern studies of Maillol the scuptor. She devoted her energies to publishing Maillol's unpublished works (particularly his lithographs for Lucian of Samosata's Dialogues des Courtisanes [2nd-century AD]), collecting Maillol's works, and organizing exhibitions of his sculptures, drawings, and prints.

Since Dina Vierny's recent death, there has been a great deal of interest in Maillol's works. A cast of La Rivière (20x220x266cm), for which Dina posed, recently sold at auction in Paris for $8, 396, 757 (presale estimate: $2,718,599-$4,007,899). A small bronze (5-7/8 inches, #1/6) sold at Christie's (London) for $96, 346; the presale high estimate was $47,190. Moving to the realm of drawings, a small red-chalk drawing of a Nu de trois-quarts de dos with a high estimate of $16,034 sold at Artcurial in Paris for $26, 364 and another one (Nu debout, red-chalk drawing 14-3/4x9 inches) with a high estimate of $10, 638 sold at Tajan in Paris for $21,320 Maillol's works, which, like most art priced at under $100,000) had slumped during the recession are now returning to their pre-recession prices. (For instance, in 2007, a black chalk drawing sold at Sotheby's NY for $20,400; the high presale estimate had been $6000.

Selected bibliography: Beatrice Bormann, Maillol and Dina (London: Marlborough Fine Art, 2001); Marisa Lluisa Borras, Maillol, 1861-1944 (Barcelona: Centre Cultural de la Caixa de Pensions, Barcelona, 1979); Pierro Camo, Maillol Mon Ami (Lausanne: Editions du Grand-Chéne, 1950); Waldemar George, Aristide Maillol. With a Biography by Dina Vierny (London: Cory, Adams & Mackay, 1965); Marcel Guerin, Catalogue Raisonné de L’Oeuvre Grave et Lithographie de Aristide Maillol Tome Premier: Les Bois (Geneva: Editions Pierre Cailler, 1965), Bertrand Lorquin, Le Musée Maillol s'expose (Paris: Gallimard, 2008); Bertrand Lorquin, Maillol Peintre (Paris: Fondation Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol, 2001); Aristide Maillol, Maillol Nudes: 35 Lithographs [for Dialogues of the Courtesans] (NY: Dover Books, 1980); Aristide Maillol, Maillol Woodcuts: 303 Great Book Illustrations (NY: Dover Books, 1979); Hans Albert Peters, Maillol (Baden-Baden: Staatlichhe Kunsthalle, 1978); John Rewald, Maillol (London: Hyperion, 1939); John Rewald et al, Aristide Maillol: 1861-1944 (NY: Guggenheim Museim, 1975); Wendy Slatkin, Aristide Maillol in the 1890s (Ann Arbor: UMI REsearch Press, 1982).
Femme de profil / Woman in profile. Original charcola drawing on tan paper, c. 1922. Signed lower right with Maillol's reddish-brown monogram with which he signed most of his drawings (some few were left unsigned). Maillol has here gone over the first quick sketch and reinforced the outlines of the model's body, which is strongly reminiscent of Maillol's favorite model, Dina Vierny. Provenance: When we purchased this drawing, it came with a typed note: "Nude (drawing)--$125.00--Weyhe [NYC]--December 1926." Someone added in pencil) "no VI" before Nude (drawing) and the title Femme de profil"after the date on the line below and the purchaser was identified as Mrs. Charlotte H. Jordan. Image size: 295x188mm. Price: $8500.
Crouching Woman. Original pastel and crayon on fibrous paper, c. 1941. Signed lower right with Maillol's frequently used red monogram stamp which he signed most of his drawings (occasionally he left them unsigned). There is brown gum tape of the borders of the verso. Provenance: Smith College Museum of Art. Sold for the beneefit of the collection of the museum. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Image size: 278x208mm. Price: $12,500.
Woman Standing. Charcoal drawing on thin paper, c. 1941. Annotated "a.m." bottom center. Maillol frequently used a black or red monogram stamp or signed his name inpencil with an "M" in an oblong; some of his drawings he left unsigned. Whether this is his signature (almost certainly not) or someone's annotation, the drawing itself is unmistakably Maillol's: almost all of his vertical drawings position the head at the very top of the paper, either touching the top of the paper or even cut off by the top of the paper, and the body shading is also unmistakeably Maillol's. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny (French, 1919-2009), his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Image size: 265x135mm. Price: $7500.
Femme en berceau, bras droit levé / Woman in a bower, right arm raised (Guérin 267iii/iii). Original lithograph on Montval paper, c. 1925. This work was included in the Album Frapier: Maitres et Petits Maitres d'aujourd'hui: Aristide Maillol. published by the Galerie des Peintres Graveurs, with their drystamp lower right corner. Edition: 25 portfolios contining the lithograph in two states, stamped, numbered, and signed by the artist and 100 portfolios with a suite of the lithographs, stamped, numbered, and signed by the artist. We have an impression numbered initialed and inscribed "No. 6/25" in pencil lower left. With Maillol's monogram printed in the stone as well. Published by Edmund Frapier, Galerie des Peintres-Graveurs, with the blind stamp lower right. A very good, dark impression. The Museum of Modern Art (NY City), which owns 30 pieces by Maillol, does not own an impression of this work. Image size: 148x193mm. Paper size: 323x495mm. Price: $3750.
Femme en berceau, bras droit levé / Woman in a bower, right arm raised (Guérin 267iii/iii). Original lithograph on Montval paper, c. 1925. This work was included in the Album Frapier: Maitres et Petits Maitres d'aujourd'hui: Aristide Maillol. published by the Galerie des Peintres Graveurs, with their drystamp lower right corner. Edition: 25 portfolios contining the lithograph in two states, stamped, numbered, and signed by the artist and 100 portfolios with a suite of the lithographs, stamped, numbered, and signed by the artist. We have an impression numbered initialed and inscribed "No. 1/100" in pencil lower left. With Maillol's monogram printed in the stone as well. Published by Edmund Frapier, Galerie des Peintres-Graveurs, with the blind stamp lower right. A very good, dark impression. The Museum of Modern Art (NY City), which owns 30 pieces by Maillol, does not own an impression of this work. Image size: 148x193mm. Paper size: 323x495mm. Price: $3750.

To our eyes, the impression from the edition of 100 seems to be slightly richer than the impression from the edition of 25.
The drystamp of the Galerie des Peintres Graveurs, who published both of the editions of this work from which our examples come.
Junon (Guérin 274). Original lithograph on cream laid paper, c. 1925. Edition: 100. Initialed and inscribed "No. 21" in pencil lower left. With Maillol's monogram printed in the stone as well. Published by Edmund Frapier, Galerie des Peintres-Graveurs, with the blind stamp lower right. A very good, dark impression. The Museum of Modern Art (NY City), which 30 pieces by Maillol, owns another impression of this work. Image size: 205x255mm. Paper size: 323x488mm. Price: $3750.
Belle Chair II / Beautiful Flesh II (Guerin 294). Original lithograph, 1931. Belle Chair was a set of 12 original lithographs and 3 woodcuts byAristide Maillol. The lithographs were printed at Atelier Desjobert and the woodcuts were printed at Lahure and published in an edition of 225 deluxe artist's books printed on thin laid Vergé de Hollande paper, each portfolio was signed and monogramed by the publishers, but the individual sheets are unsigned. This impression has a number of small spots, mostly clustered around the margins. Before this is sold, the spots will be tereated by our resotrer.Image size: 180x190mm. Sheet size: 300x240mm. Price: $750.
Belle Chair VII / Beautiful Flesh VII (Guerin 299). Original lithograph, 1931. Belle Chair was a set of 12 original lithographs and 3 woodcuts byAristide Maillol. The lithographs were printed at Atelier Desjobert and the woodcuts were printed at Lahure and published in an edition of 225 deluxe artist's books printed on thin laid Vergé de Hollande paper, each portfolio was signed and monogramed by the publishers, but the individual sheets are unsigned. Image size: 150x175mm. Sheet size: 300x240mm. Price: $1250.
Standing woman from the side, her hands raised over her head (Guerin 315). Original lithograph on handmade paper, c. 1935. Published in Paris by Philippe Gonin in 1935 in an edition of 275 (of which 150 were hors commerce) in his edition of Ovid's L'Art d'aimer (Ars Amoris) with a translations of Ovid's Latin verse by Henry Bornecque. The portfolio contained 12 original lithographs and 15 woodcuts. Signed lower right with Maillol's monogram stamp with which he signed most of his works on paper. See also Philip Hofer and Eleanor M. Garver, The Artist & The Book 1860-1960 in Western Europe and the United States (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1961; rpt. Hacker Art Book, 1982). In addition, the work also lists 3 other deluxe works with original Maillol prints. L'Art d'aimer is also listed in W. J. Strachan, The Artist and the Book in France: The 20th Century Livre d'artiste (Paris: Peter Owen, 1969). Paper size: 386x278mm. Image size: 343x106mm. Price: $1750.
Standing woman, arms raised above her shoulders. Original lithograph printed in brown ink on Montval Bütten, c. 1935. Signed with Maillol's signature stamp to the right of the center. This is the first of Maillol's lithograhs we have seen printed in brown ink (rather than black or red ink). Maillol once told Dina Vierny and her father that he had beeen drawing her before they ever met. This lithograpah, made about the time that they met, supports his statement. Although this is about the time they first began working together, he didn't begin working with her unclothed until she told him two years later that she was a member of a nudist club and was quite happy to pose nude for him. Nonetheless, it is remarkably like the figures studies he would do of her later in the 1930s and early 1940s. Paper size: 383x270mm. Image size: 335x152mm. Price: $1750.

Two nudes for Verve. Original color lithograph, 1939. Edition unknown (c. 1200) signed in the stone with his red monogram lower right. This lithograph, designed especially for the front cover of the deluxe art review Verve, was executed at Mourlot Frères in Paris under Maillol's supervision. Maillol is one of a very small group of artists who executed original lithographs for the covers of Verve who included Rouault, Chagall, and Matisse. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. The edges of the lithograph (covered by the mat) show signs of wear. Image size: 354x247mm. Price: $475.
Two nudes for Verve. Original color lithograph, 1939. Edition unknown (c. 1200) signed in the stone with his red monogram bottom left of center. This lithograph, designed especially for the rear cover of the deluxe art review Verve, was executed at Mourlot Frères in Paris under Maillol's supervision. Maillol is one of a very small group of artists who executed original lithographs for the covers of Verve who included Rouault, Chagall, and Matisse. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. The edges of the lithograph (covered by the mat) show signs of wear. Image size: 354x247mm. Price: $475.

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