The National Museum of Western Art

update 27 August 2020

Currently not on display

Aristide Maillol [Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1861 - Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1944]

Torso of Venus

Date1925
Materials/Techniquesbronze
Size (cm)114 x 47 x 30
InscriptionsSigned (in monogram) section of left leg: AM; Foundry mark section of left leg: Alexis. Rudier. / Fondeur. Paris.; Cast number back of right leg: 5/6
Credit LinePurchased
CategorySculptures
Collection NumberS.1963-0003
Torso of Venus
Photo by (c) Norihiro Ueno

This weighty, richly tactile female torso is not meant to represent a single woman's body. Maillol never tired of creating statues of the female form, and although he continued the scale and standard of a woman's flesh as motif, he never strove for a smooth skinned realism. Maillol visited Greece in 1908 where he was drawn more to the works of the archaic or strictly formalized early classical period, then to the works of the high classical period of the Parthenon. Rather than graceful forms, it is Maillol's reticently tranquil forms with their simply disciplined structures that resonate with an internal sense of a simple, powerful life force that convincingly reveal his genius. This reticence can be clearly seen in the 1910 study work for Flora. Torso of Venus was born from the full figure Venus begun in 1918 and completed in 1928. The standing figure of Venus, with the quiet positioning and movement of her right supporting leg and left resting leg combined with the slight lifting of the right hip, the soft S curve shape of the spine, the slightly pulled back left shoulder and the head turned to the left all contribute to a sense of classical contraposto. This concise torso, in its simplicity and freedom for needless coquetry, also clearly exhibits this compositional form. Here the torso is not simply a fragment of a mature woman's fleshly form, but exists rather as a mass of unique bronze that is sufficient unto itself. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 145)

Provenance

Purchased by the NMWA, 1964.

Exhibition History

1963
Maillol, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2 August 1963 - 15 September 1963, cat. no. 49
1964
[Tour Exhibition] The Matsukata Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, The Nakajima Sports Center of Hokkaido Prefecture, 22 August 1964 - 13 September 1964, cat. no. 83
1982
[Tour Exhibition] Masterpieces of Art from the Collection of National Museums, The Cultural Center of Kagawa Prefecture, Takamatsu, 23 October 1982 - 7 November 1982, cat. no. 27
1982
[Tour Exhibition] Masterpieces of Art from the Collection of National Museums, The Cultural Center of Kochi Prefecture, Kochi, 13 November 1982 - 28 November 1982, cat. no. 27
1982
[Tour Exhibition] Masterpieces of Art from the Collection of National Museums, The Tottori Prefectural Museum, Tottori, 1 October 1982 - 17 October 1982, cat. no. 27
2012
[Traveling Exhibitions presenting National Art Museum Collections, Fiscal 2012] Modern European Art: From the Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Ibara Municipal Denchu Art Museum (Okayama), 5 October 2012 - 25 November 2012, 43
2017
[Traveling Exhibitions Presenting National Art Museum Collections, Fiscal 2017] Muse: Women before the Artists' Eyes: From the Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, 22 April 2017 - 2 July 2017, Akita Museum of Modern Art, 15 July-18 September, cat. no. 44

Bibliography

1964
George, Waldemar. Aristide Maillol et l'âme de la sculpture. Neuchâtel, Suisse, Editions Ides et calendes, 1964, p. 190, repr.
1967
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. No. 1, 1967, Catalogue of the New Acquisitions. pp. 22-23, no. S-68. repr.
2006
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2006 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 145, repr.
2009
Masterpieces of The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2009, no. 145, repr.

Page top