Musée d'Orsay: Aristide Maillol The Cyclist

Aristide Maillol
The Cyclist

The Cyclist, also called, The Ephebe
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
The Cyclist, also called, The Ephebe
Between 1907 and 1908
Bronze statue
H. 98.5; W. 28; D. 22.5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot

The Cyclist, also called, The Ephebe

Le Cycliste, also called L'éphèbe [The Cyclist, also called, The Ephebe]

This statue represents the racing cyclist Gaston Colin. Like Mediterranean and Desire, it was commissioned by the German count Harry Kessler, who was Maillol's first patron. With this statue, Kessler simply wanted to own a full-length nude portrait of his companion.

Although Maillol mainly sculpted women, his work includes three male nudes: an Athlete, a Dying Warrior and this young Cyclist with his slender body and fine muscle structure, consistent with the sport practised by Gaston Colin. Few bronze versions were cast during the artist's lifetime. Kessler's copy is now in the Kunstmuseum, Basel.

The stages that Maillol went through in developing this work, first modelled in wax, are well documented. Kessler recorded his visits to the studio in his diary and in 1907-1908 took photographs of the sculpture in progress. Its realism is disconcerting, and even the patron found it exaggerated! But the fact that the statue is smaller than life sized dispels some of the embarrassment.

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