Dina Vierny, muse to French sculptor Aristide Maillol and model for painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, has died, her sons announced Wednesday in Paris. She was 89.
Vierny, who began modeling for Maillol at age 15, died Tuesday morning at an undisclosed location.
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 that now stand in the Tuileries Garden. In 1995, she created a foundation to house the works of Maillol and others at the Musee Maillol, a cozy house-like museum on Paris’ Left Bank.
Born in 1919 in what is now the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, and was then part of the Russian empire, Vierny fled Stalinist Russia with her family, settling in France.
Through a family friend, she was presented to Maillol, becoming his model in 1934. 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 was a member of the French Resistance during World War II and was arrested. After helping to obtain her release, Maillol sent her to southern France to stay with his friend Matisse, reportedly instructing him to use her as a model.
They became fast friends. She also posed for Raoul Dufy and Bonnard, who used her as inspiration for his “Grand Nu Sombre.”
Vierny grew into an art lover in her own right, opening a gallery in Paris’ artsy Saint-Germain-des-Pres district in 1947.