Paris Between the Wars – “U” is for Maurice Utrillo


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Between 1919 and 1939, Paris experienced a cultural and intellectual boom. This blog will feature artists, writers, composers, musicians, and designers. Paris was at its cultural peak.

Maurice Utrillo
Maurice Utrillo

Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955) was a French painter who specialized in cityscapes. He was the son of artist Suzanne Valadon and an unknown father (although Spanish painter Miguel Utrillo y Molins claimed paternity in 1891 and offered the young boy his name).

Shy and withdrawn, Utrillo painted very few portraits. He usually portrayed—often using picture postcards as sources—the deteriorating houses and streets of Montmartre, its old windmills, and its cafés and places of amusement. He was also inspired by trips to Brittany and Corsica.

At 21, Maurice was plagued by mental illness, and his mother encouraged him to paint. Self-taught, he painted what he saw in and around his home in Montmartre. By 1920, he was internationally acclaimed.

La Rue Norvins, Montmartre, by Maurice Utrillo circa 1910
La Rue Norvins, Montmartre, by Maurice Utrillo circa 1910

 

 

Paris Between the Wars – “K” is for Rina Ketty


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Between 1919 and 1939, Paris experienced a cultural and intellectual boom. This blog will feature artists, writers, composers, musicians, and designers. Paris was at its cultural peak.

Rina Ketty
Rina Ketty

Rina Ketty, who was born Cesarina Picchetto in Italy, is best known for recording the song J’attendrai” (“I will wait”). In the 1930s, she went to Paris to live with aunts and was enchanted by the artist communities in Montmartre. Rina fell in love with the cabarets and began singing there in 1934. In 1936, she recorded her first songs on the Pathé record label, but really didn’t achieve any success until 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II.

“J’attendrai” was a translation of an Italian song that had been popular for an Italian singer the previous year. It became emblematic for the war, much like “Lili Marlene” or “We’ll Meet Again.”

With the Nazi occupation, Rina kept a low profile and performed only in Switzerland until after the war. Her success was greatly diminished, however, and she and her husband moved to Cannes to open a restaurant. Rina Ketty died in 1996 in Cannes.