Oil on canvas
Paul Pétridès, Paris (acquired from the artist)
Thence by descent to the previous owner
New York, Wildenstein and Company, Utrillo, 1957, no. 51
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent Tableaux par Utrillo, 1959, no. 107
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Maurice Utrillo V., Suzanne Valadon, 1960, no. 99
Tokyo; Kyoto; Fukuoka; Nagoya, Maurice Utrillo, 1967, no. 63
Tokyo; Nara; Nagoya; Fukuoka, Maurice Utrillo-Suzanne Valadon, 1978-79, no. 66
Paris, Galerie Pétridès, Maurice Utrillo. V., 1990
Lodève, Musée de Lodève, Utrillo, 1997, no. 61
Pierre Courthion, Utrillo, Bern, 1947, pl. 49
Bernard Champigneulle, Utrillo, Paris, 1959, p. 96
Andras Szekely, Utrillo, la bohème et l'ivresse à Montmatre, Paris, 1970, no. 35
Paul Pétridès, L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo, vol. 3, Paris, 1969, no. 1356, illustrated p. 43
One of the most important and monumental paintings Maurice Utrillo ever produced, the present work depicts Montmatre, the area of Paris which dominated and provided the inspiration for the vast majority of the artist’s work. With its angled, cobblestone streets, shops and bars, often sprinkled with pedestrians and capped by the dome of the basilica of Sacré Coeur, the quartier had been a source of inspiration for many artists before him, from Toulouse-Lautrec to Picasso. However, Utrillo succeeded in developing a vocabulary uniquely his own in which to depict his beloved neighborhood and a strength and quietude can be found in his depictions of its famous landmarks.
The Maquis was a feature of Montmatre that Utrillo frequently depicted, a zone that had not yet been built over and gentrified, covered with trees and bushes, with occasional wooden cabins. At the beginning of 20th Century, it stretched from the Rue Giraudon to the Rue Caulaincourt. Interestingly though, at the time that this work was painted in 1931, the Maquis had actually disappeared, having been built over during the construction of the Avenue Junot in 1910-12. In the present work, the composition is dominated by the Moulin de la Galette, one of the symbols of Montmatre, and Utrillo appears to recall the work of his youth during the white period, with a palette dominated by whites contrasting against the green vegetation.
According to Carlo Santini, “Utrillo is a poet: the lonely, isolated poet of a reality that is sometimes trivial in the extreme, sometimes majestic and sumptuous. Utrillo has no need of any special figurative setting: walls, grilles, hoardings, trees, lamp-posts, cobblestones, rows of houses, cathedral towers, pavements, fences, factory chimneys, and great dark windows all take their place in his work with their own peculiar expressiveness. These and many other objects are imbued with feeling, sometimes with drama; they suggest the passage of time, the waning of life, the desperate melancholy of certain times and seasons.” (Carlo Santini, Modern Landscape Painting, London, 1972, p. 53).
Fig. 1: Photograph of the artist, with his wife, Lucy Valore, and Paul Pétridès.
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