Museum Folkwang
  • Aristide Maillol: ›Jeune fille debout‹, 1902

  • The fully sculpted, 72-cm-tall wooden statuette ›Jeune fille debout‹ is a variation on another similarly clad, female figure, which according to Maillol was his first ever wooden sculpture. This piece can therefore be counted among the earliest testimonies to this artist’s extraordinary talent, now considered one of the most eminent sculptors of Classical Modernism. The sculpture comes to us from the bequest of Museum Folkwang’s founder, Karl Ernst Osthaus.

    Maillol initially started his artistic career as a painter and did not turn his hand to sculpture until 1895. The few remaining specimens of the artist’s early wooden figures all display the same feminine phenotype and feature very similar or related stationary subjects. A young woman with a slim yet somehow sturdy looking body stands in a slight »contrapposto«, her legs together, her arms by her sides. Her small round head, poised upon a rather short neck, is at a slight angle to the axis of her body. These closed contours and balanced distribution lend even Maillol’s smaller figures an air of calm monumentality. In the context of Maillol’s early sculptural work, the Essen figure is representative of one of the most memorable and original formulations, whereby Maillol uses the garment and the contrapuntal variation of the position of her arms and legs to give the impression of confident balance. Essentially, the ›Jeune fille debout‹ evinces all the important aspects of Maillol’s sculptural concept, his highly specific notion of the standing figure: Not only does it display his penchant for the type of female physique that is somewhat more voluptuous and firm that was the case in the canon of Classical Antiquity but also for entirely stationary figures whose impulse to move plays out around the central corporal axis, or rather balances out the centripetal and fugal energies in and directed toward the figure’s core.

    The joint exhibition also presents works from the collection by Auguste Rodin, Wilhelm Lehmbruck and Alexander Archipenko, who were likewise active in France around the turn of the 20th century. In doing so it visualizes a decisive period of transition in early Modernist sculpture, which Osthaus had already observed rather attentively himself: In addition to those mentioned his most important purchases in this field included works by George Minne and Medardo Rosso dating back to the opening years of the 20th century.

    Karl Ernst Osthaus and his wife Gertrud stumbled across sculptor Aristide Maillol quite by accident during one of their many visits to Paris. Gertrud Osthaus wrote afterwards: »They were visiting Vollard, intending to buy a number of Gauguin works, when they saw someone carrying the figure through the shop. The sight moved the couple such that they immediately sought out its maker and thus initiated what would turn into years of close contact with Maillol.« Osthaus and his wife purchased the ›Jeune fille debout‹ from Parisian gallerist Ambroise Vollard at the latest in early 1904. In a newspaper article published on October 19, 1904, Karl Ernst Osthaus publicly announced the new acquisition, which was initially on display in Museum Folkwang and then later in Osthaus’ Hohenhof residence in Hagen.
    Osthaus subsequently acquired more works by the sculptor to round out his collection. He went on to buy the terracotta figure ›Jeune fille agenouillée‹, presumably in the same year, and the bronze sculpture ›Baigneuse sans bras‹ (around 1905) was brought to Hagen at the very latest in 1908, followed by the early cast ›Le coureur cycliste‹ (1907-8) the next year. Furthermore, in 1905 Osthaus had commissioned Maillol to create a sculpture for the gardens at Hohenhof, where the work entitled ›Sérénité‹ would eventually go on show in 1908. After Karl Ernst Osthaus’ death in 1921 the collection was sold to the City of Essen. However, from the group of Maillol works only the ›Le coureur cycliste‹ made it into the new Museum Folkwang collection. Gertrud Osthaus had exempted the artist’s other works from sale together with a few other sculptures. In fact the collector held onto this single figure until her death in 1975. After spending the subsequent years in the possession of her family and other close friends, it finally found its way into Museum Folkwang in 2011.
  • Exh_Title_S: Aristide Maillol: ›Jeune fille debout‹, 1902
  • Exh_Id: 1,595
  • Exh_Comment_S (Verantw): Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Exh_SpareNField01_N (Verantw ID): 188
Works
Jeune fille debout
L'âge d'airain
Ève
Stehende weibliche Figur oder Grosse Stehende
Kleiner Frauentorso, sog. Hagener Torso
Torse tournant
L’homme à l’outre
La fontaine aux agenouillés
Bambino al sole
Bambino ebreo
Le coureur cycliste