Model, artist, muse, lover, & mother of an artist Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938)


Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) c 1889

2009 Exhibit at the Pinacothéque de Paris

Mother Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) and Son Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883-1955) c 1889
In 2009, the Pinacothéque de Paris presented an exhibit of paintings by mother & son artists Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) & Maurice Valadon Utrillo (1883-1955). Theirs is a complicated tale.

Suzanne Valadon was born Marie-Clémentine Valadon in France.

Mother Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) and Son Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883-1955)
She was the daughter of an unmarried laundress & was raised in Paris in bleak, lonely, & unaffectionate circumstances.

Photo of Suzanne Valadon
She apparently taught herself to draw by age 9. As a very young woman she worked as a laundress & a dressmaker’s assistant.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) 1926
Suzanne Valadon became a circus acrobat at the age of 15, but a year later, a fall from a trapeze ended that career aspiration.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883-1955)
A strikingly beautiful girl, she found work as an artists’ model to observe & learn the artists’ techniques.

[Barbara Wells Sarudy ]

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait 1883
In the Montmartre quarter of Paris, she agressively pursued her interest in art, first working as a model for artists, observing & learning their techniques, before becoming a noted painter herself.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Profile of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) 1885
In order to separate the painter from the model, Valadon, whose given name was Marie-Clementine, worked as a model using the name Maria. As an artist, she signed her work Suzanne Valadon. She apparently adopted the new name to delineate her new & separate role as an artist.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) The Bathers, 1885–87
She modeled for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who gave her painting lessons), Amedeo Modigliani, Marcel Leprin, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, & Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes.

Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre (1824-98) Untitled painting of Suzanne Valadon 1880
She is known to have had affairs with serveral of these artists, including Lautrec, Renoir, and Chavannes.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait 1898
Although she could not afford formal classes, Valadon learned readily & absorbed the techniques of the painters around her.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Portrait of her Son Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), her Mother & his Grandmother and his Dog, 1910
Toulouse-Lautrec, who was romantically involved with Suzanne, brought her work to the attention of Edgar Degas.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) Le Tab model Suzanne Valadon
Degas talked with her at great length and bought one of her paintings the day they first met. He consistantly encouraged her to develop her artistic talent.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait 1917
Degas also helped her learn, teaching her drawing and etching techniques. At age 18, she became the mother of painter Maurice Valadon Utrillo, his father remains unknown.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait 1918
By the early 1890s, she had became close friends with the famous Edgar Degas who, impressed with her bold line drawings & fine paintings, continued to purchase her work & encourage her efforts. They remained close friends until his death.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait
Valadon frequented the bars & taverns of Paris along with her fellow painters, who would come and go as lovers, & a rejected Toulouse-Lautrec painted her with a hangover.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait
A free spirit in many respects, she would wear a corsage of carrots, kept a goat at her studio to “eat up her bad drawings”, & fed caviar (rather than meat) to her “good Catholic” cats on Fridays.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Said to be Self Portrait
In 1894, Valadon became the 1st woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. All the artists knew her and her work.
Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Said to be Self Portrait 1934
Despite her financial success & the recognition gained for her artistic achievements, her fame was eclipsed by that of her son. She gave birth to the boy in 1883, & never divulging the identity of his father, she named him Maurice Valadon. He later adopted the paternal family name of a close friend of his mother, Miguel Utrillo y Morlius, who owned the Auberge du Clou, a tavern frequented by the residents, shop owners, workers, & artists of Montmartre.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) City Dance (Suzanne Valadon and Eugène Pierre Lestringuez) 1883
After being taught to paint & mentored by his mother, as Maurice Utrillo, he became one of Montmartre’s best-known street scene artists.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Dance at Bougival (Suzanne Valadon and Paul Lhote) 1883
Among her works is a portrait of the composer Erik Satie, with whom she had a six-month affair in 1893. A smitten Satie proposed marriage after their first night together.

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Portrait of Composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) c.1892
For Satie, the intimacy of his relationship with Valadon would be the only one of its kind in his life, leaving him at its end, he said, with “nothing but an icy loneliness that fills the head with emptiness & the heart with sadness.”

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Portrait of Suzanne Valadon
In 1896, she married Paul Mousis; & the financial support of her well-to-do investor & banker husband allowed her to work full-time as an artist.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Girl Braiding Her Hair Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) 1885
Valadon painted still life, portraits, floral art, & landscapes that are noted for their strong composition & vibrant colors.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Portrait of Suzanne Valadon
For her portraits, she disregarded convention painting both beautiful & homely women, clothed & nude, from working class communities.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Portrait of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) 1885
Her use of color and her bold representations of female sexuality challenged the traditional male constructions of femininity. The women in her portraits would not be passive sexual objects. They would not assume conventional, seductive poses.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Portrait of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) The Hangover 1888
A perfectionist, she worked on some of her oil paintings for up to 13 years, before showing them publically.

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), Suzanne Valadon
Valadon’s 1896 marriage to stockbroker Paul Mousis ended when, in 1909, she left him for a painter half her age, André Utter (1886–1948), who was a friend of her son Maurice Utrillo. But that marriage did not run smoothly either.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938)
Her first one-person show, after leaving her stockbroker husband, seems to have taken place in 1911, although some claim that the year was 1915. This public exhibit of Valadon’s paintings attracted critical acclaim & numerous patrons.
Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883-1955) Portrait of His Mother Suzanne Valadon By the end of the 1st World War, she achieved critical & financial success. She continued to exhibit regularly, reaching the peak of her fame in the 1920s. Suzanne Valadon had 4 major retrospective exhibitions during her lifetime.

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), Suzanne Valadon
In her final years she was usually estranged from both Utter & Utrillo, & her health was ruined by the excesses of her life. Suzanne Valadon died on 7 April 1938, & in attendance at her funeral were her friends & colleagues, Andre Derain, Pablo Picasso, & Georges Braque.

Marcel Leprin (1891-1933) Suzanne Valadon and her Cat

Mother Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) and Son Maurice Utrillo, born Maurice Valadon (1883-1955)

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) Self Portrait 1931

Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938)

10 responses

  1. Dear Helga, wonderful post!
    Hugs and lovel always, Jussara Luna

    2014/03/26 at 3:18 am

  2. Vielen Dank liebe Sue, ja ich hatte eine sehr schlechte Zeit. Will aber versuchen, wieder hier zu sein…danke für deine Aufmerksamkeit…ganz liebe Grüße Helga

    2014/03/25 at 10:44 pm

  3. Senden Sie meine Gedanken lieber Freund .. und der Hoffnung, alles ist gut mit sich selbst .. Love Sue

    2014/03/22 at 6:37 pm

  4. Ich wünsche Ihnen ein ganz besonderes Weihnachtsgeschenk Helga, Senden Sie Liebe und Segen für ein Happy Holiday und ein friedliches und gesundes Neues Jahr .. liebe Sue xxxx Hugs my friend x

    2013/12/21 at 5:34 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Rogers Marrigny de Val and commented:
    Hello Anemalon,thank for visite Kiss.♥ ♥ ♥

    2013/12/03 at 11:16 am

    • sehr gerne, war lange nicht hier, viele Grüße ❤

      2014/03/25 at 11:13 pm

  6. It gives me great pleasure in giving you The Sister of the World Blogger Award Love and Blessings
    http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/the-sisterhood-of-the-world-blogger-award/
    Love and Blessings Sue xxx

    2013/11/27 at 5:41 pm

  7. Sending you my thoughts I hope you are having a good week 🙂

    2013/11/25 at 9:19 pm

  8. Another wonderful history lesson you have complied here Helga, It must take you ages to put together these amazing posts.. Loved the photos and the sketches
    Thank you Sue

    Eine weitere wunderbare Geschichtsstunde Sie hier nachgekommen Helga, müssen Sie nehmen Sie Altersklassen zusammen zu stellen, diese erstaunlichen Beiträge .. Liebte die Fotos und die Skizzen
    Danke Sue xxx

    2013/11/14 at 7:17 pm

    • Vielen Dank liebe Sue…die amerikanische Historikerin stellt viele dieser Geschichten zusammen, ich sammle sie und veröffentliche sie hier auf wordpress…finde sie auch sehr interessant..wünsche dir einen sehr schönen Abend liebe Grüße Helga xxx

      2013/11/14 at 8:18 pm