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    Maillol and his work

    Photographer unknown, "Portrait of Maillol", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol

    oeuvre du xix en avant

    1861 - 1882

    The beginnings

    oeuvre de maillol du xixe


    Aristide Bonaventure Jean Maillol was born on December 8th 1861 in Banyuls-sur-Mer (Pyrénées-Orientales). He was the fourth of five children of Catherine Rougé and Raphael Maillol, a fabric merchant and vineyard owner.


    His taste for art was evident from his early childhood and it was at the age of 14 that he painted his first picture, a marine. He then took drawing lessons at the Perpignan museum and decided to become a painter.

    Aristide Maillol, "Self-portrait", 1884, oil on canvas, 32 x 24 cm, © Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol

    1882 - 1885

    Studies in


    In 1882, Maillol was 21 years old and decided to make his dream come true: to "go up" to Paris. He tried several times to pass the entrance exam to the Ecole des Beaux-arts


    He was finally admitted on 17 March 1885, in the Painting and Sculpture section under the tutorship of Jean-Paul Laurens, Gérôme and especially Cabanel. At this time he experienced a period of great misery; underfed, he fell ill and was hospitalised several times.

    Photographer unknown, "Maillol in his tapestry workshop", undated © Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol

    1893 - 1895



    Disgusted by the teaching of Fine Arts and very impressed by the art of Paul Gauguin and Maurice Denis whom he met and who encouraged him, Maillol began to take an interest in tapestry. He regularly exhibited at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-arts where he sent tapestries, wood carvings, small sculptures and enamelled ceramics.


    In 1895, he created a tapestry workshop in Banyuls.

    Photographer unknown, "Maillol and Clothilde", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol



    7 July 1896

    In his studio he met Clotide Narcis, who became his model. They got married in Paris on 7 July 1896.

    30 October 1896

    On 30 October, the artist's only son, Lucien, is born in Banyuls-sur-Mer.

    Rippl-Ronaï, "Bonnard, Maillol, Vuillard, Vallotton", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol


    His Beginnings in Sculpture


    Maillol regularly welcomed his Nabis friends Maurice Denis, Ker Xavier Roussel, Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and later Henri Matisse to his home. A close friendship united these artists throughout their lives. Maillol then turned exclusively to sculpture, he made ceramics which his friends admired and which they represented in several of their works.

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Portrait of Ambroise Vollard", 1908, oil on canvas, 81.6 x 65.2 cm © London, Courtaud Institute of Art

    peinture aristide maillol


    The early days of recognition

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    In 1902, the art dealer Ambroise Vollard organised Maillol's first solo exhibition in his small gallery in the rue Laffitte. It was a collection of 33 works, the aim of which was to impress and captivate art lovers. Vollard bought some of these sculptures, but despite these sales the artist's financial situation remained precarious. The critic and art historian Meier-Graefe devoted a chapter to him in his book on modern art.

    Portait de Harry Kessler, undated © Marbach, Schiller-National Museum, Deutsches Literaturarchiv


    Meeting Count Harry Kessler


    On the advice of Auguste Rodin, Octave Mirbeau and Maurice Denis, Count Kessler, a wealthy art collector, meets Maillol in Marly. Kessler became his greatest admirer and patron. Maillol often said that this meeting was one of the best opportunities of his life.

    Photographer: Frau von Heimberg. In the studio at Marly le Roy. Maillol, aged 46, next to the unfinished stone version of Méditerranée for Kessler. In the background the plaster model of Pomona. 1908. Archives Dina Vierny Foundation-Musée Maillol, Paris


    Success at the Salon d'Automne


    Maillol had his first great success at the Salon d'Automne in 1905 with the plaster of Méditerranée. Kessler commissioned a monumental reproduction of this work from Maillol, a haute-relief; Le Désir , and later a half-nature sculpture; Le Jeune Cycliste. His friends Gustave Geffroy and Octave Mirbeau commissioned him to create a monument to Auguste Blanqui; L'Action enchaînée. He painted Renoir's portrait in Cagnes in 1907 and also worked on the sculpture La Nuit.

    Photographer unknown, "Aristide Maillol", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol




    Maillol exhibited a plaster statue, Pomona, at the Salon d'Automne 1910, which received considerable attention from the international art press. The Russian collector Morozov bought it and commissioned three other sculptures from him: Summer, Spring and Flora. Maillol also obtained the commission for the Monument to Cézanne for the city of Aix-en-Provence, which subsequently refused it. It was not installed in the Tuileries Gardens until 1929.

    Photographer unknown, "Visitors in front of Maillol's studio at Marly-le-Roi, with L'Action enchainée, La Douleur and L'Ile-de-France", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol


    Onwards An Internation Artist


    From 13 April to 4 May 1913, Maillol's first exhibition outside France was held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Eight very large sculptures, plaster models, Pomona, Flore, five drawings and sixty photographs of other works by Maillol, taken by Eugène Druet, were exhibited there. In the same year, several of his works were also shown in the United States at the famous Armory Show.


    In 1928, he exhibited in London at the Goupil Gallery and then in Berlin at Flechtheim.


    In 1933, a major exhibition was held in New York at the Brummer Gallery. The same year, a retrospective exhibition was held at the Kunsthalle of Basel.

    Studio Olofsdoller, "Portrait of Dina Vierny", undated © Paris, Archives Fondation Dina Vierny - Musée Maillol


    Meeting Dina Vierny


    In 1934, Aristide Maillol, at the height of his fame, met Dina Vierny, then aged 15. She quickly became his model and close collaborator, and remained so until his death.

    1937 - 1944

    Between 1937 and 1944, Maillol created the monumental sculptures L'Air, La Montagne, La Rivière, modelled on Dina. She would later work to make Maillol's work known to a wider public and create a museum dedicated to him.

    Photographer: Karquel, Aristide Maillol in the mountains, near Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1943. Archives Fondation Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol, Paris.


    A return to his roots


    Maillol retired to Banyuls in September 1939, fleeing the madness of men. He lived alone in the mountains in his country house, which served as his studio, and returned to painting. He began his last statue, Harmonie , which he did not finish. He began to work on a catalogue of his work with Dina Vierny and painted and drew a lot.

    Harry Kessler, "Aristide Maillol at the Temple of Apollo, Delphi", 13 May 1908 © Archives Fondation Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol, Paris


    The death of Aristide Maillol


    On 15 September 1944, Maillol wanted to visit Raoul Dufy in Vernet-Les-Bains. Doctor Nicolau drove him there but the two men were involved in a car accident. Maillol was injured in the jaw and could no longer speak. He died at home of uraemia, in Banyuls, on September 27.

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    Musée Maillol, 2021

    Musée Maillol, 2021