Aristide Maillol, who was born in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France, in 1861, began his career as a painter and tapestry designer, studying painting at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Yet when he was almost 40 years old, an eye disease forced him to give up tapestry weaving, and he turned his attention to sculpture.

By 1900 he had developed his distinctive figurative style, creating strong, energetic female nudes characterized by emotional restraint, stable forms and serene compositions. He received many important public commissions, including numerous war memorials commissioned after World War I. In 1944, he died in an automobile accident in Banyuls at the age of 83.

Maillol’s work can be found in museums throughout the world, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia; the Musée d’ Orsay, Paris, France; The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom;

The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburg; and the Tate Gallery in London. A large collection of his work is maintained at the Musée Maillol in Paris, a museum established by Dina Vierny, Maillol’s model and companion during the last ten years of his life.

The female nude is the subject of nearly all of Maillol’s mature work. Although most of his sculptures are characterized by stillness, serenity and emotional restraint, La Rivière departs from those ideals. The artist creates the feeling of instability and movement by placing the figure low to the ground and extending the head and arms beyond the pedestal. The figure, with its legs bent in a pose that suggests running, is the personification of water.




La Rivière, 1938-1943
43.3″ x 94.5″ x 57″