Model Joined French Resistance

Dina Vierny modeled for sculptor Aristide Maillol, Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse.
Dina Vierny modeled for sculptor Aristide Maillol, Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse. (By Michel Euler -- Associated Press)
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Associated Press
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dina Vierny, 89, muse to French sculptor Aristide Maillol and model for painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, died Jan. 20, it was reported from Paris. No cause of death was given.

Ms. Vierny, who began modeling for Maillol at 15, 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 in Paris to house the works of Maillol and others, the Musee Maillol, a cozy museum on the Left Bank.

Ms. Vierny was born in 1919 in what is now the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, and was then part of the Russian empire. She fled Stalinist Russia with her family and settled 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, and she was eventually arrested. 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 eventually also posed for Raoul Dufy and Bonnard, who used her as inspiration for his "Grand Nu Sombre."

Ms. Vierny grew into an art lover, opening a gallery in Paris' artsy Saint-Germain-des-Pres district as early as 1947.

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