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Dina : Large Nude with Braid

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)

1939, charcoal and white chalk on grey wrapping paper

Why is this work so important?

In this sketch, we perceive that in Dina Vierny, Aristide Maillol gained an accomplice because she was more than just a model: she understood what he was trying to do and yielded to all his artistic desires. As a result, he executed many drawings of her, including this Large Nude with Braid.

Last drawings

In this reclining nude of Dina, we can recognise the braid she wore at the time. By alternating charcoal and white chalk, Maillol composed a bold play of light on her body. Dina Vierny remembered:
Every time he drew, Maillol was seized with doubt. How often have I seen him in front of a sheet of the generally fine, rich and creamy paper that he chose.
There, before the empty sheet, not knowing whether he would be able to translate his thought processes, not knowing anything any more and wanting to say everything, how often I heard him groan. And then suddenly, the drawing would burst out, of its own accord. The drawing erupted from him, from the ends of the artist’s fingers, and took on a strangely personal life of its own.
This shows how the artist was in the habit of drawing on any medium when he was seized with an irrepressible urge to draw. “The idea,” he said, is not to obstruct the feeling”.

In detail

The curved lines in charcoal and those of the young girl’s body are highly evocative. Dina’s body conjures up images of hills and valleys, as if the artist wanted to depict a landscape.

Did you know?

Aristide Maillol hated dispersing his drawings, he was very parsimonious with them. He kept them all, included the sketches he made on the backs of envelopes or bits of paper picked up here and there. The Large Nude with Braid, for example, was drawn on brown wrapping paper.