Nymphs of the Prairie, or The Three Nymphs, is a sculpture by Aristide Maillol first exhibited at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.
The piece, realized at the peak of the sculptor’s artistic production, embodies the master’s characteristic features and forces admiration by the pleasant and delicate gestures of the Graces borrowed from classical mythology. The sculpture was restored this winter by the craftsmen of the Emile Godard Foundry thanks to the support of the Lazard Frères Gestion – Institut de France Foundation. It has just returned to the Maillol Museum where the general public can discover or rediscover it.
Portrait of Dina Vierny, the ultimate muse of Aristide Maillol and founder of the famous Maillol Museum.
Born in 1919 in Kishinev, today Chisinau, capital of Moldavia, Dina Vierny left Stalin’s USSR at the age of 6 to settle in France with her family of Jewish origin.
The young woman was only 15 years old when she was introduced by the architect Jean-Claude Dondel to Aristide Maillol, then 73 years old. While pursuing her studies, she became his muse for ten years, until the sculptor’s death in 1944.
An essential figure for Maillol, Dina Vierny breathed new life into his work by inspiring new monumental sculptures: The Mountain (1937), The Air (1938) and The River (1938-1943).
During the Second World War, she joined a Resistance network that helped anti-fascists cross into Spain, which led to several arrests. To ensure her protection and avoid deportation, Aristide Maillol sent his muse to the painter Henri Matisse in Cimiez.
Dina Vierny was also passionate about surrealism and frequented several leaders of the movement such as André Breton, Marcel Duchamp and Serge Poliakoff.
Appointed executor of the sculptor’s will, Dina Vierny was entrusted with the mission of managing and promoting his work upon Aristide Maillol’s death. In 1947 she opened an art gallery in the Saint-Germain des Prés district.
In 1963, she asked André Malraux, then Minister of Culture, to restore a statue exhibited in the Tuileries gardens. The latter proposed to install in the open air all the sculptures of Maillol that she agreed to give to the French Republic. Eighteen statues were installed in the 1st arrondissement of Paris in 1964, including the Three Nymphs.
In 1983, Dina Vierny created the Dina-Vierny Foundation and inaugurated a few years later, in 1995 with François Mitterrand the famous Maillol Museum, the umpteenth tribute of the muse to the talent of her “master”.
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To learn more about the Maillol Museum, click here.
The opinion expressed above is dated April 18, 2023 and is subject to change.
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