Martha Stewart Tells the Story Behind Her Favorite Artwork

The celebrated entrepreneur dishes on her beloved Aristide Maillol bronze sculpture

Photo: Douglas Friedman, 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
La Rivière Photo: Douglas Friedman, 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

As a student at Barnard College, Martha Stewart already had developed an eye for a good thing. She first encountered Aristide Maillol’s voluptuous sculpture La Rivière when she and her classmates would visit the garden at the Museum of Modern Art for jazz night. “I would sit on the edge of the pool and lean my head against it,” recalls Stewart, “and think if I could ever have any sculpture, it would be this one.” She was transfixed by the statue—and then “a little depressed” after socialite Anne Bass bought one at auction in the 1980s. So when Stewart came across a bronze cast of the figure at an art show at the Park Avenue Armory years later, it was fate. Now the sculpture resides at her Maine estate. It took workers three days to situate the massive piece, twice the size of a real woman, in a mossy garden bed. “I love her,” Stewart declares. “She’s so beautiful, and I know she’s happy there.”

Martha Stewart first saw the work in the Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Photo: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

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