Aristide Maillol


Aristide Maillol (French 1861-1944)

Aristide Maillol was born in Banyuls, France in 1861.  Maillol's early career was spent mainly as a tapestry designer, but he also painted.  Although he first made sculpture in 1895, it was only in 1900 that he decided to devote himself to it after serious eyestrain made him give up tapestry.  After about 1910, he was internationally famous and received a constant flow of commissions.  With only a few exceptions he restricted himself in his sculpture to the female nude.  He took up painting again in 1939 when he returned to his birthplace, Banyuls, but apart from his sculpture the most important works of his maturity are his book illustrations, which helped reestablish the art of the book in the 1920s and 1930s.

His finest achievements in this field are the woodcut illustrations, which he cut himself, which show superb economy of line.  He also made lithographic illustrations.

In 1934 Maillol met fifteen year old Dina Vierny.  She was still in high school, and he was seventy-three; she strongly resembled his sculptures and she began posing for him. At first she posed for just a head and within a year she advanced to posing nude.  She became his muse, and after his son Lucien's death the executor of his estate.

Maillol died in 1944.