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Road at Sannois
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021. Photo credit: The Courtauld

Road at Sannois c.1912

Maurice Utrillo (1883–1955)

The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

(b Paris, 26 Dec. 1883; d Dax, 5 Nov. 1955). French painter, mainly of townscapes. The illegitimate son of Suzanne Valadon, he took his surname from the Spanish painter Miguel Utrillo (1862–1934), who legally recognized him as his son in order to help him (his real father—according to some sources—was Puvis de Chavannes, who was 40 years older than Valadon). He began to paint in 1902 at the urging of his mother, who hoped that it would remedy the alcoholism to which he had been a victim since his boyhood. Valadon gave him his first lessons, but he was largely self-taught. He had a successful joint exhibition with his mother in 1923, and subsequently he became prosperous and critically acclaimed. However, he continued to be an alcoholic (in 1934 the Tate Gallery wrongly stated in a catalogue that he had died of drink that year, thus bringing on the Trustees' heads a libel suit, settled out of court).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)


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