Large Yellow Nude

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

1943, oil on canvas

Why is this work so important?

This monumental canvas, painted in 1943, is a veritable tribute to Gauguin. But Gauguin’s influence on Maillol was never restricted to taking inspiration from his motifs: right from Maillol’s earliest days, Gauguin nurtured Maillol’s artistic vision.

Last paintings

When he executed this large yellow nude in homage to Paul Gauguin towards the end of his life, Maillol had devoted a great part of his work to sculpture. However, the artist never abandoned painting and his pictorial works share similarities with his sculptures, particularly this piece. Here, the body, in its relation to the natural world, takes up almost all of the picture space echoing the monumentality that Maillol achieved in his sculpture. This is because the experience of sculpture profoundly modified his perception of painting.
In 1936, Maillol travel to Italy, and the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and its monumental size, particularly impress him. From that point onwards, the size of his paintings increased and his colour palette changed. Maillol abandoned to rather cold colours of his early work for a more brilliant colour range.

In detail

We can highlight, here, that the luminous yellow conjures up a Mediterranean atmosphere. 

Did you know?

Maillol keep up an interior dialogue with Gauguin. This is why he painted the nude in the act of tying her headscarf. It’s a reference to the Tahitian women that Gauguin depicted after his voyage to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.