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Shy and withdrawn, Utrillo painted very few portraits.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