Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) was a French sculptor, painter and graphic designer, mostly known as a carver of monumental statues of female nudes.
Maillol was born on December 8, 1861 in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Pyrénées-Orientales. In his homeland he was known as an important antipole of Auguste Rodin and worldwide as one of the most important sculptors who influenced the European sculptures during the first part of the 20th century.
He left home at the age of twenty and went to France for studying art. After an education at the École des Beaux-Arts, he became a tapestry artist.
His artistic creativity was heavily influenced by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, two artists he became friends with.
In 1892 he became a member of the group called Nabis, a group that engraved the artistic style of this period. He was also interested in textile design and opened up a studio at his birthplace Banyuls-sur-Mer, where his future wife Clotilde Narcis worked.
But he and Clotilde Narcis left the place in 1894 and went to Paris, where both moved in together. They married in 1896 and gave birth to a child named Lucien. Clotilde became the perfect model for him for the next ten years. Maillol`s first major sculpture, A Seated Woman, was modelled after his wife. The first version was completed in 1902.
In 1904 Aristide Maillol met Harry Graf Kessler. New possibilities opened up. The patron paid for travels and provided the artist`s appointments. Kessler met him on the recommendation of Rodin. In 1908 Maillol travelled together with his patron and with the author Hugo von Hofmannsthal to Greece, where he discovered the ancient sculpture as an innovative subject.
His important public commissions include a 1912 commission for a monument to Cézanne, as well as numerous war memorials commissioned after World War I.
By the ancient inspiration and by request of his patron Kessler Aristide Maillol created the sculptures La Mediteranée and Le Cycliste as well as Le Desir. Maillol took part in his first exhibition in Netherland in 1913. Other international exhibitions followed in 1925 (USA) and in 1828 and 1930 in Germany and in Italy in 1936.
The artist Aristide Maillol, also known as the Cézanne of sculpting, died at the age of 83 in an automobile accident in 1944. A large collection of his work is held at the Musée Maillol in Paris.
The original of the famous figure La Rivière, which you can buy in our shop, is held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.