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Aristide Maillol
Aristide Maillol (1925), in a photograph by Alfred Kuhn
Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol

(1861-12-08)December 8, 1861
DiedSeptember 27, 1944(1944-09-27) (aged 82)
Banyuls-sur-Mer, Roussillon
Nationality French
Education École des Beaux-Arts
Known for Sculpture, painting

Aristide Joseph Bonaventure Maillol (French: [mɑjɔl]; December 8, 1861 – September 27, 1944) was a French sculptor, painter, and printmaker. [1]


Aristide Maillol, Bas Relief, terracotta. Exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show, New York, Chicago, Boston. Catalogue image (no. 110)

Maillol was born in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Roussillon. He decided at an early age to become a painter, and moved to Paris in 1881 to study art. [1] After several applications and several years of living in poverty, his enrollment in the École des Beaux-Arts was accepted in 1885, and he studied there under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel. [2] His early paintings show the influence of his contemporaries Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul Gauguin.

Gauguin encouraged his growing interest in decorative art, an interest that led Maillol to take up tapestry design. In 1893 Maillol opened a tapestry workshop in Banyuls, producing works whose high technical and aesthetic quality gained him recognition for renewing this art form in France. He began making small terracotta sculptures in 1895, and within a few years his concentration on sculpture led to the abandonment of his work in tapestry.

Maillol, The River, bronze, 1938–1943, at the Tuileries Garden in Paris

In July 1896, Maillol married Clotilde Narcis, one of his employees at his tapestry workshop. Their only son, Lucian, was born that October. [3]

Maillol's first major sculpture, A Seated Woman, was modeled after his wife. The first version (in the Museum of Modern Art, New York) was completed in 1902, and renamed La Méditerranée. [1] Maillol, believing that "art does not lie in the copying of nature", produced a second, less naturalistic version in 1905. [1] In 1902, the art dealer Ambroise Vollard provided Maillol with his first exhibition. [4]

Air cast 1938, Kröller-Müller Museum

The subject of nearly all of Maillol's mature work is the female body, treated with a classical emphasis on stable forms. The figurative style of his large bronzes is perceived as an important precursor to the greater simplifications of Henry Moore, and his serene classicism set a standard for European (and American) figure sculpture until the end of World War II.

Josep Pla said of Maillol, "These archaic ideas, Greek, were the great novelty Maillol brought into the tendency of modern sculpture. What you need to love from the ancients is not the antiquity, it is the sense of permanent, renewed novelty, that is due to the nature and reason." [5]

His important public commissions include a 1912 commission for a monument to Cézanne, as well as numerous war memorials commissioned after World War I.

Maillol served as a juror with Florence Meyer Blumenthal in awarding the Prix Blumenthal (1919–1954) a grant awarded to painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians. [6]

He made a series of woodcut illustrations for an edition of Vergil's Eclogues published by Harry Graf Kessler in 1926–27. He also illustrated Daphnis and Chloe by Longus (1937) and Chansons pour elle by Paul Verlaine (1939). [7]

He died in Banyuls at the age of eighty-three, in an automobile accident. While driving home during a thunderstorm, the car in which he was a passenger skidded off the road and rolled over. A large collection of Maillol's work is maintained at the Musée Maillol in Paris, which was established by Dina Vierny, Maillol's model and platonic companion during the last 10 years of his life. His home a few kilometers outside Banyuls, also the site of his final resting place, has been turned into a museum, the Musée Maillol Banyuls-sur-Mer, where a number of his works and sketches are displayed.

Three of his bronzes grace the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City: Summer (1910–11), Venus Without Arms (1920), and Kneeling Woman: Monument to Debussy (1950–55). The third, the artist's only reference to music, is a copy of an original created for the French city of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Claude Debussy's birthplace.

Nazi-looted art

During the German occupation of France, dozens of artworks by Maillol were seized by the Nazi looting organization known as the E.R.R. or Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce. The Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume lists thirty artworks by Maillol. [8] The German Lost Art Foundation database lists 33 entries for Maillol. [9] The German Historical Museum's database for artworks recovered by the Allies at the Munich Central Collecting Point has 13 items related to Maillol. [10] Maillol's sculpture "Head of Flora" was found in the stash of Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hitler's art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt [11] together with lithographs, [12] drawings and paintings. [13]

A photograph from May 24, 1946 shows "Six men, members of the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives section of the military, prepare Aristide Maillol's sculpture Baigneuse à la draperie, looted during World War II for transport to France. Sculpture is labeled with sign: Wiesbaden, no. 31." [14]

Jewish art collectors whose artworks by Maillol were looted by Nazis include Hugo Simon, [15] Alfred Flechtheim [16] and many others.

Aristide Maillol, The Night, (1902), Stuttgart



  1. ^ a b c d Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette . "Maillol, Aristide". Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.
  2. ^ Cowling, Elizabeth; Mundy, Jennifer (1990). On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910–1930. London: Tate Gallery. p. 148. ISBN  1-854-37043-X
  3. ^ Himino, Ryozo (2001). Maillol. Japan: Graph, Inc. ISBN  4-7662-0645-2.
  4. ^ "MoMA, The Collections, Aristide Maillol (French, 1861–1944)".
  5. ^ "Arístides Maillol, escultor", Homenots, 3a sèrie. OC XXI, 19. "Dues mirades a Maillol. Josep Pla i Torres Monsó", Fundació Josep Pla, retrieved May 31, 2013.
  6. ^ "Florence Meyer Blumenthal". Jewish Women's Archive, Michele Siegel.
  7. ^ "Aristide Maillol", Oxford Art Online
  8. ^ "Cultural Plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg: Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume: search Maillol". Archived from the original on 2021-06-18.
  9. ^ "Lost Art Internet Database - Search". Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  10. ^ "DHM: Datenbank zum Central Collecting Point München". Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  11. ^ Gee, Malcolm. "The 'Gurlitt case': how a routine customs check uncovered a sensational Nazi-era art hoard". The Conversation. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  12. ^ "Gurlitt Provenance Research Project Object record excerpt for Lost Art ID: 533054" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-06-18.
  13. ^ "Lost Art Internet Database - Search Gurlitt and Maillol". Archived from the original on 2021-06-24. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  14. ^ "Aristide Maillol sculpture recovery, 1946 May 24, from the James J. Rorimer papers, 1921-1982, bulk 1943-1950". Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2021-06-18. Title: Aristide Maillol sculpture recovery Date: 1946 May 24 Physical Details: 1 photographic print : black and white; 12 x 09 cm. Description: Six men, members of the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives section of the military, prepare Aristide Maillol's sculpture Baigneuse à la draperie, looted during World War II for transport to France. Sculpture is labeled with sign: Wiesbaden, no. 31. Identification on verso (handwritten): Restitution shipment to France. Creator: Unidentified Forms part of: James J. Rorimer papers, 1921-1982, bulk 1943-1950
  15. ^ Masurovsky, Marc (2011-04-13). "plundered art: ERR database—Untangling the Hugo Simon collection". plundered art. Holocaust Art Restitution Project. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  16. ^ "Germany denies Jewish heirs; Cologne returns art". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2021-06-18. City counselors voted late Tuesday to hand six drawings by Karl Hofer, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Ernst Barlach, Aristide Maillol and Wilhelm Morgner to the heirs of Jewish collector Alfred Flechtheim, who fled to France in 1933.
  17. ^ "Armonía (Harmonie) - Escultura". Retrieved 9 October 2023.


  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, "Aristide Maillol, 1861-1944", New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1975.
  • Frèches-Thory, Claire, & Perucchi-Petry, Ursula, ed.: Die Nabis: Propheten der Moderne, Kunsthaus Zürich & Grand Palais, Paris & Prestel, Munich 1993 ISBN  3-7913-1969-8 (German), (French)

Further reading

External links