The Le Mayeur Museum

The Museum Le Mayeur in Sanur is definitely a must-see place in Bali for the simple reason that some of Belgian artist Andrien Jean Le Mayeur’s finest paintings of his lovely wife Ni Pollok, who often modeled for him, are housed here.

Located just steps away from Sanur Beach, the museum is flanked by the Grand Bali Beach Hotel to the south and Pura Dalem (Temple of the Dead) and the Diwangkara Hotel on the north.

The museum features a good variety of the artist’s paintings in both oil and water colors. Most of his paintings are of his wife Ni Pollok or other young Balinese women in various states of repose or doing traditional crafts such as weaving.

Born in 1880, Le Mayeur was the youngest son of a noble Belgian family. As an adult he was passionate about travel and spent time exploring various countries before arriving on Bali’s shores in 1932. Spellbound by the sights and sounds of the island, he journeyed south to Denpasar where he rented a small house and chose to live within a Balinese community, much to the displeasure to the ruling Dutch authorities.

For almost 8 months he spent all of his time painting inspiring objects including two Balinese Legong dancers who were considered legends in their time. Le Mayeur exhibited these works in Singapore, which were extremely well received by art collectors and critics alike. Deciding to reap the benefits of this success, he then extended his stay in Bali and purchased a modest piece of land on the Sanur coast. He also married his model, the lovely dancer Ni Pollock and she became the subject for a lot more of his works.

Le Mayeur’s reputation as an acclaimed artist was enhanced with further exhibitions in Singapore and Malaysia. Many of his works were considered masterpieces and highly sought after by art collectors. Sukarno, Indonesia’s first President and Prime Minister Nehru of India were just some of the clients who visited Le Mayeur at his studio in Sanur.

After Ni Pollok’s death in 1985, the museum was taken over by the Indonesian government. For several years the paintings were neglected, resulting in deterioration, but by 2003, Mr. Ketut Naria made an appeal to the State Ministry for Culture and Tourism, through the deputy assistant of art, Surya Yuga, that Le Mayeur’s works be immediately restored.

In 2003 a restoration team was brought together for the purpose of restoring all of the paintings in the Le Mayeur Museum. While conditions have improved, there are still several paintings which are in need of attention.

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