Friday, 4 August 2017

France 1961 - Aristide Maillol

A master tapestry designer, painter, and sculptor, Aristide Maillol was a man of many talents. Born 8 December 1861 in Banyuls-sur-Mer, Roussillon, France, Malliol apparently aspired from a young age to be a painter. In 1881 at the age of 20 he moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. Unfortunately things didn't work out as well as he had hoped. He applied to the art school several times and received rejection after rejection. By the time the school finally did accept his application in 1885, Malliol had been living for some time in poverty. I've been unable to find anything about he his studies went, but it would probably not be a stretch to say he did very well.

Mallol's early paintings were heavily influenced by contemporary greats Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Paul Gauguin. In fact, Gauguin took an interest in Malliol's work, particularly his decorative art. Gauguin was so impressed that he encouraged Malliol in this direction, which led him to try his hand at tapestry design. Malliol excelled in this art form, and even opened his own tapestry workshop. Malliol gained critical acclaim for the work produced in his workshop. His work sparked a new wave of interest for tapestry design in France. 

But Malliol was keen to broaden his artistic horizons by experimenting in other mediums. In 1895 he began making sculptures in terracotta. Within a few short years Malliol was totally hooked on the art of sculpture. So much so that he completely abandoned his work with tapestry art. Indeed, Malliol is now probably most remembered by his beautiful sculptures celebrating the nude female form. One such sculpture was titled Woman aka The Mediterranean circa 1905. 


On 20 February 1961 France issued a stamp celebrating the work of Aristide Malliol. The stamp was issued just under one hundred years after his birth. It was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris. The subject of the stamp was the statue The Mediterranean as mentioned above.

I find this piece of work fascinating. It is the work of one artist, Albert Decaris, utilising his own artistic style to replicate a famous sculpture. I know what your probably saying: stamp engravers have reproduced thousands of pieces of art! That is very true. But within this stamp in particular I can discern the caricature-like style of Decaris blended with the unique talents of Malliol. An impressive piece of stamp art indeed!

Until next time... 

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