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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Utrillo, Maurice


Rue Saint-Rustique sous la neige (Rue Saint-Rustique, Montmartre in the snow)
1944
oil on cardboard
57 x 81 cm (22 3/8 x 31 7/8 in)
private collection

“The people here are idiots-idiots! There's not an hour I don't think of it. I'm shut out here and they won't let me go. I would rather be there than anywhere.” (Maurice Utrillo)

Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955) was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes. Born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, as the illegitimate son of the painter Suzanne Valadon, he learned the skills from his mother, who wanted to keep him away from his addiction to alcohol. He soon showed real artistic talent. With no training beyond what his mother taught him, he drew and painted what he saw in Montmartre. After 1910 his work attracted critical attention, and by 1920 he was internationally acclaimed. In 1928, the French government awarded him the Cross of the Legion d'honneur.

In middle age he became fervently religious and in 1935, at the age of fifty-two, he married Lucie Valore and moved to just outside of Paris. By that time, he was too ill to work in the open air and painted landscapes viewed from windows, from post cards, and from memory. Throughout his life, he was plagued by alcoholism and his mental disorder resulted in his being interned in mental asylums repeatedly.

His paintings up until 1907 are dominated by the colors yellow, turquoise, wine red and zinc white. From 1909 to 1914 he confines his palette to white and shades of gray. In order to attain a greater realistic effect with his paintings, he mixed sand and gypsum into the paint. This so-called "Periode blanche" (White Period) marks the highlight of Utrillo's creation.

From Wikipedia: Concerning Utrillo's paternity
An apocryphal anecdote told by Diego Rivera concerning Utrillo's paternity is related in the unpublished memoirs of one of his American collectors, Ruth Bakwin: "After Maurice was born to Suzanne Valadon, she went to Renoir, for whom she had modeled nine months previously. Renoir looked at the baby and said, 'He can't be mine, the color is terrible!' Next she went to Degas, for whom she had also modeled. He said, 'He can't be mine, the form is terrible!' At a cafe, Valadon saw an artist she knew named Miguel Utrillo, to whom she spilled her woes. The man told her to call the baby Utrillo: 'I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!'"