Musée Léon Dierx

The Leon Dierx Museum

The Leon Dierx Museum in Saint-Denis houses an exceptional collection of modern and contemporary art. It is located in the Villa Manès on the Rue de Paris, the diocese of Reunion until 1911.

The Collections

The Leon Dierx museum was created in 1911 thanks to the efforts of two Reunion Islanders, Georges Athénas et Aimé Merlo, who wrote under the pseudonym of "Marius and Ary Leblond". The Leon Dierx Museum stood out as a modern art museum from its creation.
The museum's first collections derived from a public campaign by Athenas and Merlo. Artists, writers, intellectuals and Metropolitan French art dealers donated European modern art, amongst which are works by Antoine Bourdelle, Karl-Edvard Diricks, Henri Le Sidaner and Theo Van Rysselberghe. The most important donation came from the writer and art critic Félix Fénéon.
Ambroise Vollard, a Reunion Island businessman, donated two works: one, Mer et rochers rouges by Louis Valtat et Fleurs by Maurice Vlaminck. The French state donated a collection of gothic and roman plaster casts.
The population of La Reunion also donated historic objects and works painted in La Reunion by Arthur Grimaud, Adolphe Leroy or Louis Antoine Roussin. From this time, the Museum collections have continued to grow. They include other exceptional acquisitions:

In 1922 Hervé Le Coat de Kervegen left about thirty sketchbooks belonging to his mother Adèle Ferrand.

In 1947, the colonial administrator Lucien Vollard, followed his brother Ambroise's example and donated 157 works representing 63 artists championed by his brother: Caillebotte, Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Rodin, Redon and Rouault. This donation neatly coincided with the statute change of La Reunion from a French colony to a French Overseas Department. The first French Prefect to arrive in La Reunion celebrated the two events on the 24th of August 1947.

This donation only served to underline to innovative collecting policy of the Leon Dierx museum, oriented towards the future. Since this time, many artists and auction houses have supported the museum, all philanthropists following in the footsteps of Georges Athénas et Aimé Merlo.

Rich and diverse collections

The historic collections comprise works by 19th century Reunionnais artists (or artists working in Reunion) including François Cudenet, Léon Dierx (also an amateur painter) and Adolphe Leroy.
The Leon Dierx Museum holds major modern artworks including three ceramics by Paul Gauguin, a Pablo Picasso bronze and paintings by Emile Bernard, Gustave Caillebotte, Maurice Denis and Maximilien Luce. Contemporary art holdings include Erro, Ange Leccia, Jean Le Gac and Alain Padeau.
The contemporary art is represented by the great composition by Erro, works by Ange Leccia, Jean Le Gac, Alain Padeau…

People linked to the Museum

Marius - Ary Leblond

Aimé Merlo's (1880-1958) pseudonym was "Ary Leblond" and Georges Athénas' (1877-1953) was "Marius Leblond". These two Creole intellectuals sought donations from artists and galleries to create a Museum in Saint-Denis, La Reunion. They also influenced the choice of works donated by Lucien Vollard in 1947. Both men were well-known writers and critic, part of the Reunion Island diaspora living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. They won a number of literary prizes including the Goncourt Prize in 1909 for the novel In France. Strong supporters of French colonial policy at the beginning of the 20th century, they held posts at the Scientific Academy of Overseas France [l’Académie des sciences d’Outre-Mer] and the Museum of Overseas France [musée de la France d’Outre-Mer] where "Ary Leblond" was curator from 1934 to 1950.

Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939)

Ambroise Vollard was a Reunion Islander who worked as an art dealer in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. Early on, he took an interest in young and unknown artists such as Cezanne, Renoir and Roualt, and he bought their paintings. He wrote works about the artists he championed, and wrote a sequel to the novel Pere Ubu by Alfred Jarry. Ambroise Vollard was also an art editor, and drew on artists such as Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, George Rouault to illustrate beautiful and rare books.

Léon Dierx (1838-1912)

Leon Dierx was a Reunion Island poet who took part in the literary movement of 'The Contemporary Parnassus' whose leader was the poet Charles Leconte de Lisle, also from Reunion. From 1864, Dierx published a number of poetry books. He was among a group of poets asked to attend the 1885 funeral wake of Victor Hugo at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. He won the Academie Française's Estrade Delcros prize in 1896 and was voted "Prince of Poets" by his peers in 1898, the title previously held by Stephane Mallarmé.
"Arius and Mary Leblond" paid homage to Leon Dierx and his work by asking him to give his name to the new museum. True to his natural modesty, Leon Dierx only agreed on condition that this would be after his death. Dierx died in June 1912 and the Museum has been known as the Leon Dierx Museum since the 12th of November 1912.


The Leon Dierx Museum has a temporary exhibition space of 800m2, which allows the display of contemporary art - Chen Zen in 1996, Peter Knapp in 1997 and Thierry Fontaine 2000. The Leon Dierx Museum also exhibits historic collections not on permanent display through major exhibitions such as "La Reunion: perspectives on slavery 1794-1848" in 1998, "The Ambroise Vollard collection at the Leon Dierx Museum" in 2002 and the 2007 exhibition "Odilon Redon: the earth and the sky".

Musée Léon Dierx


Musée Léon Dierx
28, rue de Paris


T : 02 62 20 24 82
F : 02 62 21 82 87


Tuesday to Sunday
9 : 30 am - 5 : 30 pm
Closed on Monday and on May, 1st