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Harmony, 1st State

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

1940, bronze Emile Godard

Why is this work so important?

Harmony was Maillol’s last sculpture. Approaching 80, he continued to explore new avenues. For the very first time he was to execute a statue entirely from nature. That meant he would sculpt a real model posing in front of him.

Last paintings

Maillol was not at all familiar with sculpting after nature. Usually, he worked only from his own imagination. So this was a thrilling and difficult challenge for him. For the first time too, Maillol’s female nude is also a genuine portrait: he has delicately depicted Dina’s features. The artist executed a number of successive versions of this work, which he called “states”, hence the name of the sculpture: Harmony, 1st State. Dina Vierny explained that: “It was simply the same idea executed two or three times, but differently. A sculpture is never unique, it always comes in several states. (…) He had to multiply his thoughts.”

In detail

Maillol had difficulty in sculpting from life. To produce this work, he repeatedly created, destroyed, and recreated each part of the body. More than anything, the legs were a problem for him. Notice that it is only the right leg that is really supporting the statue.

Did you know?

Completely immersed in his creation, Maillol initially decided to dispense with the statue’s arms because according to him they hide everything. But during the summer of 1944, Maillol was fatally injured in a car accident. This last sculpture, which he had worked on for four years, is unfinished.