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Utrillo, Maurice

Maurice Utrillo

French • 1883-1955

Maurice Utrillo is among the most prolific of the French artists, known for his rich and daring color palette and use of contrast to bring the streets of his hometown of Montmarte to life.

Utrillo was born on Christmas Day in the Montmartre quarter of Paris to artist and model Suzanne Valadon who studied from and was encouraged to paint by Edgar Degas. Utrillo received no formal training, studying directly with his is mother instead. His first subjects were the scenes from his home, a subject matter he carried with him throughout his career. Between the autumn of 1903 and the winter of 1904, he completed almost 150 paintings of somber, pale landscapes that reflected his fascination with ordered composition and flattened treatment of space reflecting strong emotion. From 1909 to 1914, Utrillo began experimenting with mixing glue, plaster or cement to create the stark white hues for which he became famous. His paintings, particularly of buildings, show his characteristic contrast between the boldness of his color and his meticulous draughtmanship, a quality that is reflected here in Rue Saint-Rustique a Montmartre.

By 1920, Utrillo had become a international figure and was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor by the French government in 1929. He married Lucie Valore in 1935 and moved to Le Vesinet, a small village on the outskirts of Paris. Failing health in his later years forced him to rely on his memory and postcards for his inspiration since he could not tolerate the outdoors. Although his life was plagued by alcoholism, he lived to age 72 and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.


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