Maurice Utrillo (French, 1883–1955), born in Paris, was a painter specialized in cityscapes. His mother, Suzanne Valadon (French, 1865–1938), was an artist's model, and Utrillo grew up with her in the famous Montmartre quarter of the city, which is known for its artistic and bohemian community. Valadon modeled for French artists, such as Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), and was inspired by them to begin to create art herself. She taught herself to paint, was mentored by Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), and soon became known for her artistic ability. Utrillo's youth was troubled by alcoholism, truancy, and mental illness, but he was urged by his mother to explore art as a way to deal with his struggles.

With her guidance, Utrillo began to paint, and soon exhibited a real artistic talent. His paintings began to win him acclaim, and by 1920, his city scenes and landscapes were known around the world. Some of his most famous works depicted the city of Paris, with a special focus on his Montmartre neighborhood. Perhaps most famous are his depictions of the Lapin Agile, a cabaret in the neighborhood that was frequented by the artists and writers of the time. Although he was troubled by his health in later years, Utrillo continued to paint scenes of his neighborhood from his window, and from memory. He passed away in Montmartre in 1955, and since his death, several retrospectives of his work have taken place in Montmartre and in major museums throughout the world. His work is part of the collections at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, among many other institutions.

Timeline

1883
Born: in Paris, France on December 26th
1909–1914
“White Period”, used zinc white often with plaster to depict aging, cracked walls
1915–1924
“Colour Period”, intense colors outlined by hard black lines
1928
Made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour
1955
Died: in Le Vésinet, France on November 5th

Exhibitions

2007
Maurice Utrillo: le Montmartre du rêve et de la poésie, Mitaka City Gallery, Tokyo
2002
Paris, Capitale des Arts: 1900-1968, Royal Academy of Arts, London
1982
Les Peintres Indépendants de Montmartre: 1920-1940, Musée de Montmartre, Paris
1968
Painting in France, 1900-1967: A Loan Exhibition organized by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and le Musée National d’art moderne, Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
1939
Pissarro to Utrillo: For the Young Collector, Perls Gallery, NY
1936
Maurice Utrillo: The White Period (1911-1914), Galerie Bignou, NY (solo)
1923
Peinture moderne, groupe II, Bernheim-Jeune, Paris
1923
Exhibition of Contemporary European Paintings and Sculpture, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philidelphia
1919
Exposition d’ouevres de Maurice Utrillo, Galerie Lepoutre, Paris (solo)
1912
Salon d’automne, Grand Palais, Paris (solo)