Aristide Maillol - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Georges Rudier Fondeur, Paris (circa 1952)
    Galerie Chalette, New York (acquired by 1957)
    Louise Reinhardt Smith, New York (acquired directly from the above on January 18, 1957)
    The Museum of Modern Art, New York (bequest from the above in 1995)

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Musée Isetan, Exposition Maillol au Japon, 1984, S-45 (illustrated)
    New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Masterworks from the Louise Reinhardt Smith Collection, May 3 – August 22, 1995, pp. 48-49 (illustrated)
    New York, The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA2000, Modern Starts: People, Language of the Body, October 7, 1999 - February 1, 2000, p. 77 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    An Exhibition of original pieces of sculpture by Aristide Maillol, 1861-1944, exh. cat., Paul Rosenberg and Company, New York, 1958, no. 34, p. 35 (edition 4 of 6 illustrated)
    Aristide Maillol, exh. cat., Der Kunstverein, Hamburg, 1961, no. 73, p. 44 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    George Waldemar, Aristide Maillol et l âme de la sculpture, Switzerland, 1964, p. 201 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    Aristide Maillol: 1861-1944, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1975, p. 86 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    George Waldemar, Aristide Maillol et l’âme de la sculpture, Editions Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 1977, p. 203 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    Maillol, exh. cat., Palais des Rois de Majorque, Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud, Perpignan, 1979, p. 109 (artist's proof illustrated)
    Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, p. 198 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    Aristide Maillol, exh. cat., Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin, 1997, no. 82, p. 214 (unknown edition number illustrated)
    Aristide Maillol, exh. cat., Palais des Congrès, Perpignan, 2000, p. 119 (terra cotta cast illustrated) and p. 126 (edition 6 of 6 illustrated)
    Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, Paris, 2002, p. 104 (unknown edition number illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Aristide Maillol’s Baigneuse accroupie (Crouching Woman), comes from the esteemed collection of The Museum of Modern Art. Acquired by Louise Reinhardt Smith from Galerie Chalette in 1957, Baigneuse accroupie was exhibited in her home until it came to The Museum of Modern Art as part of her bequest in 1995, where it has remained until the present day.

    Smith was praised by The New York Times as “a discerning collector of modern art and a prized supporter of The Museum of Modern Art since 1957,” of which she was a Lifetime Trustee. In honor of her patronage and dedication to the Museum, an exhibition of highlights from her collection, including the present lot (Fig. 1), was held in 1995. Smith’s extraordinary collection included works by Georges Braque, Edgar Degas, André Derain, Alberto Giacometti, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, Odilon Redon, Auguste Rodin, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Edward Steichen, Jacques Villon, and Maurice de Vlaminck. Masterpieces from the Louise Reinhardt Smith collection are regularly on view in the Museum’s galleries, including Henri Matisse’s Landscape at Collioure (1905), Vasily Kandinsky’s Picture with an Archer (1909), and Pablo Picasso’s Bather (1908–09) and Woman Dressing Her Hair (1940).

    In 1995, Kirk Varnedoe, Chief Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1988-2001, wrote of this work:

    Admired and encouraged by early modern pioneers such as Gauguin and Rodin…The artist's roots lie in the Symbolist context of the 1890s, when his initial devotion to an ideal of the decorative expressed a valuation of hand craft and of art's relation to timeless values that were espoused by socialist movements of the day. The first small nudes he modeled in those years, and refined and enlarged for dis play in the early 1900s, posit a stolid, thick-jointed female anatomy that is the antithesis of the insatiable, anorexic fatal woman often associated with the fin-de-siecle and Art Nouveau. The relation to Gauguin's mannish Tahitian vahines is not coincidental; aside from likely direct influence, these figures (which were inspired, as all of Maillol's later work was, by the hefty proportions of Catalan girls from his native Roussilon region on the Mediterranean shore in the Southwest of France) reflect a shared search for archaic certainties in backward zones untouched by such urban fashions as feminism. Within that "peasant" or "primitive" spirit of deeply internalized passivity, the artist could also imagine a less troubled, blunter, and more primal sexual candor: despite her generalized volumes, Crouching Woman has, like Maillol's early Night, a surprisingly specific vulva.

    If we see Maillol's women, as many of his admirers did, only in the healthy sunlight of Mediterranean harmony and classical revival, we risk missing the original involvement of their moody self-possession with a more nocturnal sense of dreaming mystery, and ignore the latent association between their heavy, simplified limbs and a concept of primitive power. Push the
    Crouching Woman and her some of cohorts in one direction and we border on the territory of Henry Moore; in another we approach the rural proletarians of Diego Rivera.

    Baigneuse accroupie is the realization, in bronze, of a pose Maillol explored many years earlier in marble and in preparatory sketches (Fig. 2). Maillol considered the head to be merely an extension of the body, and in keeping with this aesthetic principle, rendered the face expressionless, frequently concealing it altogether, as seen in the present work. In this way, Baigneuse accroupie relates to a group of small bronzes made around 1930 and cast by the Alexis Rudier foundry, which depict the model turned inward in unconventional postures. Of Baigneuse accroupie and another contemporaneous bronze, Thought, Maillol scholar Bertrand Lorquin wrote, “The beauty they express in almost abstract terms stems from plastic experiments based on a single idea – the idea of pushing simplification to an extreme. It was this quest for ever greater simplification that led Maillol to return again and again to the same subjects, the same themes…He shares this ideal of simplified outlines with his friend Matisse. Far from impoverishing his oeuvre, it allowed him on the contrary to discover its hidden potentiality.” (Bertrand Lorquin, Aristide Maillol, London, 1995, pp. 103-4)

    In 1930, Maillol had reason to reconsider his earlier, carved iteration of this pose. That same year, he was commissioned to produce a large stone monument to the composer Claude Debussy. Maillol’s emphasis on contour and volume translated well in large scale. The smooth, undulating edges and dense volumes contained in his sculptures communicated his desire “to integrate sculpture in space,” Lorquin has explained, “to create bodies whose volume related to mountains, hill, and plains.” In Baigneuse accroupie, the model’s upturned hips, rounded shoulders, and low chignon result in a cascading sequence of graceful curves counterbalanced by the mass of her arms, breasts and thighs. Maillol’s forms later influenced the British sculptor Henry Moore, a connection that is particularly evident in the delicate scale of Baigneuse accroupie.



Baigneuse accroupie (Crouching woman)

incised with the artist's monogram and numbered "M 3/6" on the base; further stamped with foundry mark "Georges Rudier/Fondeur Paris" on the back of the base
6 3/8 x 9 3/8 x 4 3/4 in. (16.2 x 23.8 x 12.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1930 and cast circa 1952, this work is number 3 from an edition of 6 plus 1 artist's proof and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the late Dina Vierny. This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre d’Aristide Maillol currently being prepared under the supervision of Olivier Lorquin.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $162,500

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST