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 Aristide Maillol  (1861 - 1944)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: female figure sculpture, painting, woodcut illustration

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Ad Code: 1
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
LA RIVIERE, 1938-1943
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

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.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
The Oxford Dictionary of Art, Oxford University Press 1988 edited by Jan Chivers, Harold Osborne and consulting editor, Dennis Farr
"Keeper of the Flame" by Franke de Looper in Art & Antiques Magazine, September 2001

Biography from Heritage Auctions (
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Aristide Maillol was a student at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1882, and joined the Nabis group in 1894. He maintained a tapestry workshop at Banyuls-sur-Mer from 1893 to 1900.

His sculptures were primarily female nudes, including la Mediterranee, which was exhibited in the Salon d'Automne of 1905. Later in his life, Maillol also executed woodcut illustrations for books, as well as sculptural monuments and war memorials.

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