Woman Seated with a Parasol
1895, oil on canvas
Why is this work so important?
Woman Seated with a Parasol is one of Aristide Maillol’s largest paintings. In it, the artist tackles a monumental style that would soon be one of his hallmarks. We find here the influence of the impressionists.
A young woman is seated beneath an overhanging tree and, protected from the sun, she has leaned her parasol against the bench for a moment. The focus on representing light, and this particular depiction of a figure in a garden, are clearly reminiscent of the atmosphere of impressionist paintings. The artist discovers the exhibition of Impressionists at the Salon des Indépendants in 1886. This movement was a veritable revelation for Maillol, who was still developing his style. In this work, he combined influences from Gauguin with those from Cézanne.
Observe the play of light on the ground. You can only see a part of the tree, but the shadows thrown by its foliage provide areas of contrast.
Did you know?
The work was painted in 1892, when Maillol had been living in Paris for around ten years. He had left his birthplace, Banyuls, at a very young age, to enroll the School of Fine Arts in Paris. But he quickly become disenchanted. This is how he described it: “The unfortunate falls into the School as if into a well. He does not find truth there, as truth is quite simply elsewhere!”