Dina Vierny, 89, muse to French sculptor Maillol
PARIS - Dina Vierny, muse to French sculptor Aristide Maillol and model for painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, has died, her sons announced Wednesday.
Ms. Vierny, who began modeling for Maillol at the age of 15, would have turned 90 today, a statement said. She died Tuesday morning in an undisclosed location.
Ms. Vierny was Maillol's greatest devotee and the leading force in making his acclaimed figurative bronzes available to the public. In 1963, she gave France a collection of monumental Maillol sculptures. They now stand in the Tuileries Garden. In 1995, she created a foundation to house the works of Maillol and others, the Musee Maillol, a cozy house-like museum on Paris's Left Bank.
Born in 1919 in what is now the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, and was then part of the Russian empire, Ms. Vierny fled Stalinist Russia with her family, settling in France.
Through a family friend, she was presented to Maillol, becoming his model in 1935. She collaborated with the artist until his death in a car accident in 1944, inspiring sleek, bold works like "La Montagne" (The Mountain), "L'Air" (Air) and "La Riviere" (The River), one of his last works.
She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, eventually getting herself arrested. Maillol sent her to southern France to stay with his friend Henri Matisse, reportedly instructing him to use her as a model. They became fast friends. She eventually also posed for Raoul Dufy and Pierre Bonnard, who used her as inspiration for his "Grand Nu Sombre."
Ms. Vierny grew into an art lover in her own right, opening a gallery in Paris's artsy Saint Germain des Pres district as early as 1947. The statement by her sons, Bertrand and Olivier Lorquin, said their mother spent a lifetime "passionately attached to art," as exemplified by works collected at the Musee Maillol.