Guide to the Musée Maillol in Paris: A Tribute to the Franco-Catalan Sculptor

Bronze sculptures at the Musée Maillol/ Ibex73, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bronze sculptures at the Musée Maillol/ Ibex73, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Inaugurated in 1995, the Musée Maillol is a private museum that highlights the work of Franco-Catalan sculptor and painter Aristide Maillol– perhaps best known thanks to the fact that many of his sculptures now grace the lush Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.

The museum was founded by Dina Vierny, a singer and art collector who was also Maillol’s collaborator and model; she notably donated the 20 statues at the Tuileries to the French government. The collection she created from her own Foundation houses not only a large collection of works in various media from Maillol himself, but also a rich cache of paintings, drawings and sculptures from other important artists of the 19th and 20th centuries– making it a key stop for anyone interested in the history of modern art.

{Related: The Best Modern & Contemporary Art Museums in Paris}

It’s located in an elegant hotel particulier (a former private mansion and convent) called the Hotel Bouchardon, which took some 15 years to renovate prior to the museum’s much-awaited opening. It also hosts frequent temporary exhibits dedicated to various artistic masters and movements of the 19th to 20th centuries.

This under-appreciated gem should be on the itinerary of anyone interested in the history of sculpture– why not pay a visit here before or after visiting the nearby Musee Rodin, dedicated to another of France’s greatest sculptors?

Highlights From the Permanent Collection

The permanent collection at the Maillol museum covers a vast surface area, with several rooms dedicated to the paintings and sculptures of Aristide Maillol, who was a student of the sculptor Bourdelle and an admirer of Auguste Rodin. Female nudes dominate Maillol’s work; he is best known for his minute study of fleshy, rotund feminine forms.

Some of the more noteworthy works by Maillol in the permanent collection include sculptures such as “The Mountain”, “Air”, “The River”; and statuettes like “Dina a la natte” (featuring the founder-muse once again).

The collection also includes some of the artist’s lesser-known paintings, drawings and pastels, as well as studies, earthenware figures and even tapestries. It really shows the breadth of Maillol’s artistic output, and underlines how eclectic his interests were.

Meanwhile, major works (paintings, drawings, pastels, sculptures, and other media) from French and international artists such as Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Suzanne Valadon, Raoul Dufy, Pierre Bonnard, Auguste Rodin and Wassily Kandinsky make up the remainder of the permanent exhibition, all drawn from Dina Vierny’s personal art collection.

The Building and its History: The Hôtel Bouchardon

Exterior of Musée Maillol/Fondation Dina Vierny/Musée Maillol
Exterior of Musée Maillol/Fondation Dina Vierny/Musée Maillol

The museum and Foundation is housed in several spacious rooms of an 18th century hotel particulier and former convent that is itself noteworthy in many respects. The exterior is decorated with an ornate and arresting monument completed in 1745 by French sculptor Edme Bouchardon (for whom the hôtel is named) and entitled “La Fontaine des Quatre Saisons” (“The Fountain of the Four Seasons”).

Many famous figures have passed through the Hôtel Bouchardon, including French poet Alfred de Musset, who lived here between 1824 and 1840, as well as the French painter Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry, who worked within its walls for a time.

Meanwhile, the onsite Café des Frères Prévert is a restaurant located in the basement of the building, on the same site where surrealist poet Jacques Prévert and his brother Pierre opened a cabaret in 1951. The cabaret was an important site for French artistry and collaboration in the mid 20th-century, and saw performances from the likes of Yves Montand, who set Prévert’s poetry to music.

Temporary Exhibitions

The temporary exhibitions at the museum are often much-buzzed-about events that can draw large crowds, so showing up early in the day (and booking tickets well in advance) is strongly recommended. Recent temporary exhibits have focused on artists including the photographer Steve McCurry, the sculptor Alberto Giacometti, Andy Warhol and other Pop Art masters of the mid-20th century, and masters of “naive” art such as Henri Rousseau, Camille Bambois and Dominique Peyronnet.

See more on temporary shows (current and forthcoming) at this page.

Getting There & Practical Information

The museum is located in the stately and affluent 7th arrondissement (district) of Paris, not far from the Eiffel Tower. It’s also in close reach of the Musée Rodin, whose collections showcase the works of two other great French sculptors, Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. You might consider visiting both museums in a single day for a thematic, in-depth look at some of the city’s finest sculptures and their history.

Opening Hours and Tickets:

The museum is open daily from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, and on Friday evening until 8:30 pm. It remains open in most French bank holidays, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Make sure to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to closing time to ensure entry.

Buying tickets and current admission prices: See more on current ticket and admission prices at this page, under the “Prices and Times” tab.

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