Rosita, just over ten inches tall, was among the first terracotta statuettes Maillol made when he took up sculpture in the 1890s. A forerunner of the life-size bronze Bather with Raised Arms (also in the National Gallery's collection), the tiny Rosita exemplifies the sculptural aesthetic to which the artist would adhere for the next fifty years: refining and reducing the contours and volumes of the female body into a formal, abstract beauty that Maillol equated with archetypal forms in nature.
Using clay he most likely dug from a pit near his home, Maillol smoothed the curvaceous, solid figure to hide all signs of the artist's hand. The heavy hips, thick legs, and upturned breasts were typical of the Catalan women of Maillol's village, Banyuls, in the Pyrenees -- and it would be a "type" that Maillol would model again and again.
Rosita stands in modified contraposto, one knee bent with foot raised, poised (as the title of the enlarged bronze version suggests) to enter the bath. She reaches up, arms bent at the elbow, to adjust her hair and gazes down, rather than meeting the viewer's eye. The qualities of containment and introspection gave Maillol's works a centered serenity that distinguished him from his contemporaries -- particularly Rodin, who nevertheless understood and admired Maillol's unique style and vision.
DIMENSIONS: 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)
COLLECTION: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
ACCESSION NUMBER: 1983.1.58