Lot 10
  • 10

Aristide Maillol

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  • Aristide Maillol
  • La Montagne
  • Inscribed  A. MAILLOL, with the foundry mark Georges Rudier, Fondeur Paris and numbered 1/6

  • Lead
  • Length: 72 7/8 in.
  • 185 cm


Private Collection, Paris

Dina Vierny, Paris

Private Collection, Japan

Acquired from the above by the present owner


John Rewald, Aristide Maillol, London, Paris & New York, 1939, illustration of the smaller terracotta study pl. 120

John Rewald, Aristide Maillol, 1861-1944, Paris, 1950, illustration of the plaster p. 48

Maillol, Exposition-Hommage du Centenaire de sa naissance (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Daber, 1961, illustration of the smaller terra cotta study pl. 15

Hommage à Aristide Maillol (exhibition catalogue), Musée National d'art Moderne, Paris, 1961, illustration of the stone version

Waldemar George, Aristide Maillol, Neuchâtel, 1965, photograph of the artist with the plaster cast p. 51

Aristide Maillol (exhibition catalogue), Perls Galleries, New York, 1970, no. 58, illustration of a smaller version p. 40

Waldemar George, Maillol, Paris, 1971, illustration of another cast p. 38

Aristide Maillol: 1861-1944 (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1975, illustration of another cast pl. 98

Maillol au Palais des Rois de Majorque (exhibition catalogue), Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud-Perpignan, 1979, illustration of a smaller version p. 110

Bertrand Lorquin, Maillol au Tuileries, Paris, 1991, illustrations of the lead version pp. 20-22

Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, illustrations of the lead version pp. 136 & 138 

Aristide Maillol (exhibition catalogue), Palais des Congrès, Perpignan, 2000, illustration of a smaller version pl. 85

Catalogue Note

La Montagne marks the culmination of Maillol's allegorical renditions of the seated female nude.  His original idea for this form dates from the beginning of the century, when he completed his poetic La Nuit (see fig. 2) and the powerful La Méditerranée.  Over the next several decades the artist's fascination with the grace and elegance of the seated figure never diminished, and he returned to this motif in the 1930s with La Montagne.  The sheer size of this figure was a powerful aesthetic statement in these final years of Maillol's life and instigated his production of other impressive monumental sculptures, including L'Air (see fig. 3) and Monument à Cézanne.

Maillol's model for this sculpture was a young Russian woman named Dina Vierny, whose voluptuous physique bore a striking resemblence to the figures of Maillol's sculptures.  Vierny began working with the artist in 1935, and La Montagne was one of the first major works modeled after her image (see fig. 4).  Maillol rendered several preliminary sketches (see fig. 5) and four different studies for this sculpture, and ultimately arrived at the final composition in 1936.  Bertrand Lorquin has written about the influence of Vierny on this work and the other sculptures Maillol created at the end of his life:   "The appearance of this new model in Maillol's life brought about a renewal of his art and gave him the impetus to create the monumental sculptures of his final years.  'I began posing for large monumental drawings and for the carving of Nymphs,' remembers Dina Vierny.  'Next came The Mountain, for which he returned to the projects he had had at the beginning of his life, but with a certain change in the conceptions that determined his work.  He wanted to complete the monuments he carried within himself and then come back to painting, which is in fact what he did'" (Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, pp. 138-140).

In 1936, the Musée National d'Art Moderne commissioned the first monumental version of La Montagne in stone.  Maillol began working on the plaster for this sculpture in 1936 in the large studio of his friend, Kees Van Dongen, whose brother Jean assisted him on his casting and stone carving.   On December 21, 1936, the photographer Brassaï visited the artist at this studio, and photographed him while he worked on the giant plaster of La Montagne (see fig. 1).  In Brassaï's remembrance of that day, he told of how the sculpture nearly collapsed and how Maillol succeeded in stabilizing his massive composition: "the weight of the material has caused La Montagne's left shoulder to begin to slip...Probably the iron armature has given way. Maillol is beside himself, and so is everyone else.  Can the disaster be prevented; Van Dongen fetches some planks to shore up the weakened shoulder, while the sculptor tries to strengthen it with freshly mixed plaster.  In the end, the sculpture is saved, and two hours later I managed to photograph it with Maillol looking like a midget beside the colossus" (Brassai, The Artists of my Life, London, 1982, p. 116).

La Montagne was cast by the Georges Rudier and Emile Godard foundries in an edition of 6 numbered casts, 4 artist's proofs and 2 estate casts.    The present cast is one of the few remaining in private hands and other casts are in the following locations:

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Canberra Museum, Australia
St. Louis Art Museum
Columbus Museum, Ohio
Musée Maillol, Paris
Private Collection, Virginia
Private Collection, Texas
Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
Private Collection, US (formerly in the collection of Barbara P. Johnson)

Fig. 2, Aristide Maillol, La Nuit, 1904, bronze, sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 2, 2005

Fig. 3, Aristide Maillol, L'Air, 1938, lead

Fig. 4, Dina Vierny with one of Maillol's sculpture, circa 1937.  Photograph by Brassaï

Fig. 5, Aristide Maillol, study for La Montagne, 1936, Fondation Dina Vierny, Musée Maillol, Paris

Fig. 1, The artist with the plaster cast, circa 1937. Photograph by Brassaï