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Aristide Maillol (1861 -1944)
Woman with a Chignon or The Bather
Babbitt metal ?
H. 67 cm ; W. 15 cm ; D. 15 cm
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The work seems to have been made out of Babbitt metal, an alloy of tin or lead and antimony, an inexpensive metal used in casting as a replacement for bronze, sometimes called “the poor man’s bronze”. Purchased by Rodin in 1904 for 500 francs from Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer who was promoting Maillol at this time, The Bather appealed to the sculptor because of its extremely smooth modelling “without blacks”.
The two artists had great respect for each other. While Rodin was “the god of sculpture” in Maillol’s eyes, the master saw a search for eternity in the younger sculptor’s works, which placed The Bather or Woman with a Chignon on a par with the archaic statues being rediscovered during this period. Maillol’s forms were no doubt influenced by Gauguin and his full, smooth, serene figures. What Rodin himself was seeking, especially in his late career, was something close to Maillol’s compact, simplified forms. This new canon, quite unlike classical sculpture, is also found in Rodin’s oeuvre,but the sensuality emanating from Maillol’s works is more serene and peaceful than in Rodin’s sculptures.
Crédits photo : © ADAGP, Paris, 2012