- Aristide Maillol
- TORSE DE VÉNUS
inscribed with the monogram, numbered 2/6 and stamped with the foundry mark C. Valsuani Cire Perdue
Private Collection, California (sale: Christie's, New York, 8th May 2000, lot 3)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owners
Waldemar George, Aristide Maillol, London, 1965, illustration of another cast p. 190
Waldemar George, Aristide Maillol et l'âme de la sculpture, Neuchâtel, 1977, illustration of a larger version p. 196
Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, Geneva, 1994, illustration of the plaster p. 107
In his endless search for perfection in depicting the human body, Maillol executed several versions of Venus, constantly revising and refining the forms and contours of the standing female nude. Bertrand Lorquin wrote about Torse de Vénus: 'This torso, which dates from the year 1918, is a work of art in itself. It is perhaps one of the most accomplished pieces of sculpture in his entire œuvre' (B. Lorquin, op. cit., p. 107). In the present work the artist isolated the figure's torso in order fully to explore this part of the female anatomy, and rendered it with a sense of classical beauty and sensuality. John Rewald commented about Maillol's sculpture: 'To celebrate the human body, particularly the feminine body, seems to have been Maillol's only aim. He did this in a style from which all grandiloquence is absent, a style almost earthbound and grave... The absence of movement, however, is compensated by a tenderness and charm distinctively his own' (J. Rewald, in Aristide Maillol (exhibition catalogue), Rosenberg Gallery, New York, 1958, pp. 6 & 7).
Maillol received inspiration from the art of many cultures, including the sculpture of ancient Egypt, the Hindu carvings of India, and the white marbles of classical Greece. According to the artist himself, 'In Greek art, there is nothing more beautiful than the Vénus de Milo' (quoted in Aristide Maillol (exhibition catalogue), Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 1945, p. 22). For Maillol, the Vénus de Milo (fig. 1) reflected an inherent serenity independent of emotional implications or overt narrative. Although he rejected naturalism in art, he admired the refined contours that revealed the sensuality and quiet grace of pure form. Having finally found success with his own Vénus, Maillol subsequently created two versions of the full standing figure, one with a necklace and the other without.
Fig. 1, Vénus de Milo, circa 100 B.C., marble, Musée du Louvre, Paris