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Georges Clairin - Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt
Armand Point - Peacock Casket
Camille Alaphilippe - Woman with Monkey
Aristide  Maillol - Seated female nude with her left hand on her head. Study for The Mediterranean
Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse - The Struggle for Life vase
Léon  Lhermitte - Les Halles
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Ambroise Vollard in a Red Scarf
Jean Carriès - My Portrait
Emile Gallé - Two-handled vase
Georges-Henri Lemaire - Silence or Immortality
Charles-Alexandre Giron - Woman wearing gloves, also known as The Parisienne
Paul Sérusier - Tricoteuse au bas rose
Pierre-Auguste  Renoir - Portrait of Madame de Bonnières
Berthe Morisot - Jeune fille en décolleté - La fleur aux cheveux
Pierre Bonnard - Conversation à Arcachon
Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat - Dish : The judgment of Paris
Joseph-Marius Avy  - Bal blanc
Marie Constantine Bashkirtseff - Parisienne, Portrait of Irma
Maurice Denis - Female bathers at Perros-Guirec
Fernand Pelez - La Vachalcade
Camille  Pissarro - Le Pont Royal et le Pavillon de Flore
Alfred Sisley - The Church at Moret (Evening)
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen - Ball on the 14th of July

The Wave

Aristide
Maillol
Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1861 – Perpignan, 1944
Circa 1891-1898
Oil on canvas
95,8 x 88,2 cm

In a letter to his countryman Bourdelle, who introduced him to sculpture, Maillol describes the pleasure he takes in watching the waves: “I do studies of the sea. It feels strange painting the sea, you never know what colour it is.” So when he decided to paint a nude, Maillol naturally made her a bather.
The composition follows a horizonless spatial schema that follows the pattern of the decorative spirals that are a legacy of Japanism. The curves of the wave whose foam envelops the bather reflect the waves in her hair. This fusional representation of the bather and the marine element evokes the very sensual Woman in the Wave (1868, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) by Gustave Courbet, whose pictorial power Maillol admired.

The harmonious curves of the nude treated in a global manner fit neatly into the nearly square format of the canvas, like a metope in a Greek temple. The choice of matt paint is also a reference to architecture and more precisely mural painting, an area where Puvis de Chavannes was the great moderniser at the time.

The timeline of the pictures painted by Maillol before 1900 remains hard to establish. With its architectural relationship of the body to space, the clarity of its contours and the fullness of its forms, The Wave ushered in the great sculptures of female nudes to which Maillol would devote himself from the turn of the 20th century onwards.

Donor, testator or seller: 
Gift of Ambroise Vollard, 1937
Inventory number: 
PPP02279
Inventory number : PPP02279
This work is not currently on display
Paris 1900
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