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Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Aristide Maillol (French, 1861-1944): Sanguine Lithographs for Dialogues des Courtisanes

Maillol / Maillol 2: Belle Chair / Maillol 3: Sanguine lithographs / Maillol 4: 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, 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). When Maillol met her (at the recommendation of the future architect of the Musée d'art moderne) "Dina's physical type and facial structure correspondedd 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 his 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, howeever, 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 includedd Franz Werfel, Thomas Mann's son, and André Breton) to escape occupied France . THe Vichy government heard of this and confined her under house arrest. She escaped and went to Paris, where she was arrested by the Gestapo and spent six months in prison. 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.

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 collecting Maillol's works and for organizing exhibitions of his sculptures.

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).
Justification page for Maillol's Dialogues des Courtisanes. The regular edition consisted of 275 impressions on ha d-made Canson and Montgolfier off-white (almost oatmeal colored) paper made especially for Maillol containing 7 full-page black-and-white lithographs and 28 text illustrations (as above). The deluuxe edition of 50 contained the regular text and lithographs plus a separate suite of all of the lithographs hors texte in sanguine. We have a complete set of the regular edition plus 9 lithographs from the sepatate suite in sanguine of 50 without text. All of the lithographs are signed with Maillol's stamp; some of the lithographs have been trimmed outside the image area for reasons known only to God. Happily, in 1980, Dover books published an inexpensive paperback reproducing all 35 of the lithgraphs in black and white. Since the catalogue raisonn´of Maillol's etchings and lithographs is rare and very difficult to find, we are including the page numbers on which the works will be found in this edition.
Torso (Dover, p. 20). Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 377x250mm. Image size: 210x95mm. Price: $2500.
Standing woman with towel fixing her hair (Dover, p. 13). Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 375x282mm. Image size: 355x155mm. Price: $2850.
Standing woman seen from the rear adjusting her hair (Dover, p. 11). Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 375x270mm. Image size: 300x110mm. Price: $2850.
Walking woman seen looking to her left (Dover, p. 17) .Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 381x267mm. Image size: 350x145mm. Price: $2850.
Seated woman holding her right calf (Dover, p. 21).Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 328x252mm. Image size: 255x190mm. Price: $2850.
Seated woman looking over her right shoulder(Dover, p. 5). Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 381x268mm. Image size: 180x150mm. Price: $2850.
Squatting woman seen from the rear with her left leg extended. (Dover, p. 12, lower left). Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 235x260mm. Image size: 180x117mm. Price: $2000.
Squatting woman leaning on her left hand (Dover, p. 22, top).Original lithograph in sanguine, c. 1939. One of 50 impressions signed in sanguine ink signed with Maillol's monogram stamp. The model for this drawing was probably Dina Vierny, his preferred model from c. 1936 on. Sheet size: 260x265mm. Image size: 135x160mm. Price: $2000.

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