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Musée Maillol


Aristide Maillol: his life and work


Disheartened with the teaching of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and very impressed by the art of Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis, who met and encouraged him, Maillol became interested in tapestry. He regularly exhibited his tapestries, sculptured wood, miniatures and enamelled terracotta at the Gallery of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1895, he set up a tapestry workshop in Banyuls.


A move towards sculpture

Maillol often invited his friends, known as the "Nabis" or "Prophets", to his home: Maurice Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard and later Henri Matisse. These artists would remain close friends throughout their lives. Maillol then began working exclusively on sculpture. He made terracotta pieces that were much admired by his friends, and were depicted in several of their works. 


Success at the Salon d'Automne

Maillol had his first major success at the Salon d'Automne in 1905 with the Méditerranée (Mediterranean) plaster sculpture. Kessler commissioned a monumental stone version of this sculpture from Maillol, a high relief piece called Le Désir (Desire), then a half life-size sculpture, Le Jeune Cycliste (the Young Cyclist). His friends Gustave Geffroy and Octave Mirbeau got him a commission for a monument from Auguste Blanqui, called l'Action enchaînée (chain reaction). He did a portrait of Renoir in 1907 in Cagnes and he also worked on the sculpture La Nuit (The Night).


Encounter with Dina Vierny

In 1934, Aristide Maillol, at the peak of his fame, met Dina Vierny who was then 15 years old. She soon became his model and close collaborator and continued to work with him until his death. Between 1937 and 1944, Maillol produced the monumental sculptures L'Air (Air), La Montage (Montage), La Rivière (River) with Dina as his model. 

Dina Vierny worked hard to bring the works of Maillol to a wider audience, and to create a museum dedicated to him.


Return to the source

Maillol retired to Banyuls in September 1939. He wanted to escape the folly of mankind. He lived alone in the mountains and began painting again. He began work on his final statue, Harmonie (Harmony), which he never finished. With the help of Dina Vierny, he began preparing an inventory of his oeuvre. He did a lot of drawing and painting.