The Sculpted Nude: Aristide Maillol and Eric Gill
1 December 2003 - 29 February
With his simplified treatment of form and
solid, static figures, Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) developed
a new type of sculpture, rejecting the dramatic style and animated
surfaces of the renowned Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). For Eric
Gill (1882-1940), letter-cutter, wood engraver and sculptor,
Maillol was the greatest man in the world. Yet given the opportunity
to work as his assistant by their mutual patron, German diplomat
and collector, Count Harry Kessler (1868-1937), he rejected
the offer. For an artist strongly influenced by medieval and
Indian relief sculpture, whose inspiration came through direct
cutting in stone, Gill felt he would learn nothing from the
conventional practice followed by Maillol of modelling from
wax or clay.
A central theme of both artists work was the female nude. Whether taken from life or from the imagination, the sensual drawings and prints displayed here are all handled with craftsmanlike precision. Maillols smooth, rounded contours and sensitive shading, and Gills flatter, more hard-edged treatment, echo their sculptural techniques as modeller and carver respectively.