Aristide Maillol

The Woman who walks through the water

Artwork Detail

The expressive elegance of Hellenistic sculpture, seen on his first visit to Greece in 1908, astonished and inspired Maillol, leading him to create works in which the motivating force is physical beauty joined with graceful movement. Although he began his career as a painter and tapestry designer, he moved on to concentrate almost exclusively on sculpting the nude female figure. According to Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, his ongoing intention was to strip away any literary associations or architectural context. Before its acquisition this sculpture was in the possession of the artist's son at Marly-le-Roi and it represents an idea which later became one of Maillol's greatest works - L'Ile de France, c1910. The main point of difference lies in the right leg, which turns inward in this version, and more of the woman's legs appear above the water. The upper body thrusts further forward, creating a sense of dynamism and giving an overwhelming sense of the dragging effect of water on the figure. Maillol had an ongoing fascination with aspects of this figure, which appears in a number of variants. While rejecting Rodin's complicated forms, he wished to create a harmony and simplicity which permits admiration both for the sculpture's abstract qualities and the artist's sensual feeling for the human body. (from The Guide, 2001)

The Woman who walks through the water
Aristide Maillol
Production date
1206 x 380 x 500 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1957
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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