Description
Charles MALFRAY (1887 - 1940)
The Big Source of the Taurion, 1938-1939

Bronze proof, #1/8
Sand cast by Marius Hohwiller
Signed: CH. MALFRAY
H. 54, W. 88, D. 30 cm (model ¼ size of the final)
Public Collections: Orléans, musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum, Orléans) Paris, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (National Collection of Contemporary Art)

Literature:

- Jacques Laprade, Malfray, Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1944, p. 10, 28-30, repr. -L. Gischia et N. Védrès, La sculpture en France depuis Rodin, Paris, Seuil, 1945, p. 65, pl. 21, repr.
- A.-H. Martinie, La sculpture en France au XXe siècle, Paris, Editions Braun et Cie, 1949, n°10, repr.
- Jean Cassou, Bernard Dorival et Geneviève Homolle, Catalogue guide du Musée National d’Art Moderne de Paris, Paris, Editions des Musées Nationaux, 1954, p. 201-202, repr.
- Charles Kunstler, La sculpture contemporaine de 1900 à 1960, Paris, Editions de l’Illustration, 1961, p. X, repr.
- Françoise Galle, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures de Charles Malfray, master’s thesis, Université Paris I, directed by Robert Julien, 1971, n°142-143-144, repr.

Description:

In 1938, Bastard, the director of production at Sèvres, recommended Charles Malfray and Paul Cornet to Georges Huisman, the principal director of the Beaux-Arts, who commissioned a piece from each of them on behalf of the state for the city of Limoges. Malfray was asked to do The Source of the Taurion, a small river in the Limousin, and Cornet was asked to do The Vienne. The works were designed to decorate the pools of the Vergniaud Fountain in the Champ de Mars near the railway station. At a later date, perhaps in the 1980s, the two statues were moved; today they are on a lawn in the nearby garden of the Champ de Juillet. The sculptor’s wife, Jeanne, served as the model for The Source of the Taurion. Malfray began his work with several sketches, one of which, in red chalk, was on the door from his studio in the rue François Guibert.[1] He then created a three-dimensional model, which he in turn enlarged to ¼ the size of the finished work before going on to the monumental plaster, which today is held in the Beaux-Arts museum in Orleans. This plaster allowed him to work out the details for the final version in stone, 3.4 meters long, which he sculpted in his studio in the rue de la Procession.[2] His students Jean Carton and Raymond Corbin remembered seeing it in progress before it was sent to Limoges on January 14, 1939.[3] When the monumental plaster was presented at the Salon des Tuileries in May of 1939, the press was extremely complimentary. The critic Louis Vauxcelles spoke of it as “passionate and vigorous” and even “torential and romantic.”[4] The sculptor’s biographer, Jacques de Laprade,[5] considers The Source of the Taurion to be one of the masterpieces of contemporary sculpture, and Waldemar George has compared it to the sculpture of previous centuries. “In The Source of the Taurion and in Reclining Nudes, Charles Malfray reached his peak. Standing before The Source, one is reminded of the works of Goujon, Coysevox, and Artistide Maillol. Malfray takes the expression of plastic fullness as far as his predecessors did.”[6]

[1]The door of the studio was saved from demolition in 1971 by René Andréi and is held in the Beaux-Art museum in Orléans.
[2] The rue de la Procession is close to the rue François Guibert.
[3] Malfray’s agenda from 1939. Paris, Fondation Taylor. [4] Vauxcelles, Excelsior, June 10, 1939.