The white dome of the Sacré-Coeur has a recurrent presence in Utrillo's depiction of Montmartre. In the present work, the dome of the basilica of Sacré Coeur rises over the trees and shops lining the street. Werner discusses the artist's depiction of this Parisian landmark: "Utrillo portrayed its Romano-Byzantine contours, as white as if coated with sugar, in many of the paintings that he did from memory or from picture postcards. Usually in these paintings the basilica's monumental scale dwarfs the surroundings...the great dome is hemmed in by the buildings in the foreground, and their darkly outlined edges accentuate its immaterial substance, setting it afloat in the blue sky" (Alfred Werner, Maurice Utrillo, New York, 1981, p. 146).
Utrillo excels in his use of spatial perspective to highlight the imposing structure of the Sacré-Coeur over the low-lying buildings. Dark, recessed windows and receding figures lead the viewer's eye towards the end of the street and into the white starkness of the basilica. Vlaminck wrote about Utrillo's spiritual intention in his artistic employment of Sacré Coeur: "The most spectacular paintings are perhaps certain cathedrals which contain a true mystic power. When Utrillo paints the imposing bulk of a basilica, or the pointed spire of the village chapel, he unconsciously expresses the love that man feels toward the Creator" (quoted in Gustave von Groschwitz, Maurice Utrillo (exhibition catalogue), Pittsburgh, 1963, p. 4).
Fig. 1 Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, 1900
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