Throughout his life, Maillol explored the female nude, posing the figure to express the grace and harmony of its forms, its stable geometry, and solidity. Toward the end of his career, in 1933, Maillol described how he would sit in a grove of olive trees in his native Bayuls-sur-Mer, looking at the mountain before him, the trees swaying in the wind: “It’s violent and it’s calm at the same time. I have an idea for a sculpture that I’ll call The Mountain and the Wind.” In 1936, the French State commissioned an over-life-sized stone sculpture, La Montagne, to be placed outside the Musée National d'Art Moderne (today in the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon). Maillol explored the subject in preliminary sketches and clay figurines that harken back to his early essay of the seated figure The Mediterranean from the early 1900s, but here he introduced an element of movement. The figure’s right leg seems to emerge from the earth, and her body is stabilized by the triangle of her raised left leg. Her torso leans back slightly, while the axis of the right arm presses downward and the left hand of her bent arm fans above the head as if warding off the wind, rippling through her hair. The Mountain was later cast in an edition of monumental lead sculptures. The matte surface of the lead accentuates volume rather than surface and heightens the bold, concise silhouette of the powerful figure.
Fondation Dina Vierny, Paris;
acquired by Anne W. Marion, Fort Worth, Texas, November 1989;
acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, gift of Anne W. Marion, 2021.