The creation of the Maillol Museum is the result of a life devoted to Art. It was at the age of 15 that Dina Vierny met Maillol, after been told that she resembled his work. This encounter between a model and an artist will deeply stimulate the latter’s creative capacity. Maillol found the figure he had in him, the one he needed to create and that allowed him to pursue his work. A work based on the beauty of the body. Their collaboration was very fertile and lasted for ten years. During this period, Maillol took Dina as a model for drawings from which he conceived his sculptures.
Works such as “la Montagne”, “l’Air”, “la Rivière”, but also statuettes such as “Dina à la natte” as well as paintings, pastels and drawings will emerge from this confrontation between the perfection of a body and the maturity of a talent.
Dina Vierny also sat for some of Maillol’s dearest friends: Matisse, who wanted to do a modern version of Olympia, Bonnard, who did the “Grand Nu sombre”, and Dufy, who made a whole series of drawings after her.
During the war, Maillol retired to his studio, isolated in the mountains, and worked, with Dina of course, on his ultimate work: “Harmony”. This last sculpture remained unfinished since Maillol dies in 1944, following a car accident. It took twenty years before he had a state funeral.
In 1964, Dina Vierny donated eighteen sculptures by Maillol. Under André Malraux’s authority, they were initially installed in the Tuileries gardens, and then relocated in the Carrousel garden, to better fit the perspectives. Some years later, she created her own Foundation to make Aristide Maillol’s work public and then went on to achieved one of her lifetime goals: the creation of the Maillol Museum.
Located behind the famous monument by sculptor Edme Bouchardon, “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons”, the Foundation’s building was built in the 18th century on land belonging to the Récollets convent. Over the years, this complex of three buildings has seen many residents, famous or anonymous, such as Alfred de Musset who lived there between 1824 and 1840 or the painter Baudry who had his studio there. The building also housed Jacques and Pierre Prévert’s Cabaret de la Fontaine des Quatre Saisons, made famous after the war, as well as a photo agency, and even a fishmonger’s, where the public entrance of the museum is now located.