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Monument to Debussy

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

1930, bronze Alexis Rudier

Why is this work so important?

This sculpture is one of Maillol’s most elegant creations and we are struck by the purity radiating from this figure. The graceful movement of her arms – one forward, one back – creates a perfect balance.

Life-sized sculptures

In 1930, the municipality of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where the composer was born, asked the artist to create a sculpture. And rather than depicting the composer himself, Maillol chose to sculpt a crouching woman. Once again, Maillol interested himself in the idea that the composer embodied: his creative genius and not the man himself. Here, the young woman represents Debussy’s muse.
It is interesting to note that music played an important role in Maillol’s creative process. He explains that thanks to / through music he can see his figure and understand it better.

In detail

Observe the base, we can see the first few bars of Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un Faune, one of Debussy’s most famous pieces.

Did you know?

Maillol admitted that he had a very limited knowledge of the work of Claude Debussy. So why execute this statue in homage to the great French composer? In fact, it was a commission. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Maillol embodied the rebirth of sculpture, his success never wavered, and he received many public commissions.