In 1938, Aristide Maillol embarked on an ambitious commission which ultimately became "La Rivière (The River)," his final masterpiece. The unusual pose arose from the original terms of the commission, which was intended to honor Henri Barbusse (1873 – 1935), noted author and pacifist. In keeping with Barbusse’s anti-war sentiment, Maillol initially conceived the figure as a woman who had been stabbed in the back, falling at the viewer’s feet, arrested in agony. However, when funds proved to be insufficient to complete the memorial, Maillol reconceived the figure as a more timeless theme, the personification of a river. The model for "La Rivière" was the artist’s muse, Dina Vierny. Her son Bertrand Lorquin described the work: “Monumentality does not require to be looked up to, but simply to be looked at. This was a radically new concept of the function of monumental sculpture, for it introduced a new relationship between the statue and the viewer.”

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

If you have questions about this work of art or the MFAH Online Collection please contact us.

Aristide Maillol, French, 1861–1944
La Rivière (The River)
Bronze, edition 4/6
Overall: 43 5/16 × 94 1/2 × 57 1/16 in., 1200lb. (110 × 240 × 145 cm) Base (Stone): 10 × 72 7/8 × 29 5/8 in., 4800lb. (25.4 × 185.1 × 75.2 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Dina Vierny, Paris; [Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York]; purchased by MFAH, 2016.