- Maurice Utrillo
- LES FORTIFICATIONS DE PARIS
- Signed Maurice Utrillo V (lower right) and titled (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
- 31 7/8 by 39 3/8 in.
- 81 by 100 cm
Pétridès Collection, Paris
Tokyo, Central Museum; Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art; and travelling to Fukuoka and Nagoya, Maurice Utrillo, 1967, no. 97, illustrated in the catalogue (as dated circa 1942)
Tokyo, Daimaru Museum; Kyoto, Daimaru Museum; and travelling to Osaka, Shimonoseki, Ominichi, Maurice Utrillo, 1992, no. 64, illustrated in color in the catalogue p. 93
Fukuyama, Museum of Art; Akita, Municipal Museum of Senshu; and travelling to Yonago, Koriyama, Hokkaido, Inazawa, Kitakyushu, Maurice Utrillo, 1996, no. 33, illustrated in color in the catalogue p. 107
Oita, The Prefectural Art Hall; Kyoto, Eki Kyoto Museum; and travelling to Saga and Chiba, Maurice Utrillo, 1998, no. 65, illustrated in color in the catalogue p. 110
Paul Pétridès, L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo, Paris, 1969, vol.III, no. 1475, illustrated p. 79
The present work demonstrates another facet of Utrillo’s life-long interest in the city and culture of Paris. The fortifications, originally built to defend the city against aggressors, remained virtually untouched until the 1920s. Approximately thirty kilometers long, connected by 52 gates that gave entrance to the city, the walls divided Paris intramuros from the suburbs. A virtual bohemian community flourished on this undeveloped land, otherwise referred to as the Zone Militaire, or more simply, “The Zone”.
This area and its inhabitants were a particularly hot topic in social, political and intellectual circles of the time, and were the interest of several artists during the first half of the 20th century. Van Gogh painted a series of watercolors depicting views from the ramparts (see fig. 1), while photographer Eugène Atget produced a series of photographs between 1910 and 1913 portraying the no-man’s land of the “The Zone” through motifs of gypsies, ragpickers and trailers (see fig. 2), the last of which recalls the trailer in the foreground of the present work.
The sign on the building in the background that reads “Hotel des Ternes” suggests that this scene is perhaps situated near the Porte des Ternes, one of the gates to the inner city. Bright, sunny sentiment in the present work displays Utrillo’s growing interest in narrative, as he features local women on an afternoon promenade, their backs towards us, thereby invoking a certain curiosity and inviting the viewer into the painting itself.
Fig. 1 Vincent Van Gogh, Gate in the Paris Ramparts, 1887, watercolor and pen an ink on paper, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Fig. 2 Eugene Atget, Porte de Montreuil, Zone des fortifications, 1913 , albumen print, George Eastman House collection, New York