It doesn't hurt to spend an hour or two wandering around the permanent exhibitions of the place called - in inimitable French style - Musée Maillol Fondation Dina Vierny.|
Most people will pay the most attention to the full-sized bronzes. Maybe they're right. (The people, not the bronzes.) There aren't as many as the "naked ladies hiding among the hedges of the Tuileries", but the ones in the museum are just as good, and just as representative. And you'll discover that Maillol was just as Maillol when sculpting his earlier models.
There are also rooms full of studies for the bronzes. Standard academic drawings just like the ones you did in your life class, maybe with a little more sensitivity, but maybe not. But they'll help you to understand how Maillol worked.
The big news is when you get to the paintings. The largest collection of Maillol paintings I have seen. Which I guess isn't very surprising. But the paintings themselves are. Here you won't find Dina Vierny rounded into a perfection of female sexuality. Here you will find a powerful woman, strong-muscled, confident, and dominant. This is the woman who, when she was modeling for Bonnard (or was it Matisse?), wrote a letter to someone about what "we are working on now". This is the woman who took over being both Maillol and Dina Vierny after the sculptor's tragic death.
But don't just try to read into the flat images. Look at the upper lip in a few of the paintings. There's a painting hanging in the leftmost position on one of the walls where the prominent upper lip is particularly odd. That's how it will look when you're looking right at it: odd. But wait until you've moved on to something else for a few minutes. You'll suddenly feel that you've just left the presence of a woman of amazing beauty, and that it's hard to forget her image. I suppose that that's what people mean when they talk about haunting beauty.