Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

1921-1925, bronze Alexis Rudier

Why is this work so important?

This sculpture of Maillol is one of the rare work where you can see movement depicted. The artist, who was known for being the “sculptor of the immobile”, draws with no trace of instability in the movement. Maillol has managed to preserve the same harmonious balance of masses that characterises his entire oeuvre. 

Life-sized sculptures

The distinguishing feature of this work results from the unique creative process used to make it. Executed in 1925, Ile de France seems to evoke a memory. This sculpture, deriving from the image of that sister, represents a woman walking into the sea with bare feet and lifting up her skirts. Maillol was totally overwhelmed by the movement and for the rest of his life he tried to recreate it in his statuary.
In his representations of the female form, Maillol generally favoured the full, generous figures he associated with women from southern France. But this girl is slender because Maillol is seeking to symbolise the northern Ile-de-France region.

In detail

And as you can see, the emphasis in this forceful figure is definitely on the torso: observe the proud forward thrust of the upper body and the swept-back arms, leaving the waist completely unhindered. It was only later that Maillol added the long legs and then the head.