Utrillo, From Domrémy to Montmartre

On 31 March 2021, by Claire Papon

Two paintings by Maurice Utrillo that hail from an apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine are up for auction.

Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), Le Moulin de la Galette, 1921, oil on panel, 27 x 49.5 cm (10.63 x 19.49 in.)
Estimate: €30,000/35,000

Dated 1933 and estimated between €20,000/30,000, the watercolor and gouache Rue de la basilique à Domrémy again attests to Maurice Utrillo’s taste for certain buildings and churches outside Paris, but especially to his innovative treatment of space. Rising or falling perspectives, street corners and volumes of houses create a rigorous art. People are reduced to silhouettes walking down empty sidewalks; Utrillo focused all his attention on façades. Some are cracked and peeling, heightening the sense of solitude and poverty. Others look much fresher, such as in this view of the Moulin de la Galette (€30,000/50,000, see photo), Utrillo’s signature motif.

Unlike Renoir or Toulouse-Lautrec who captured the mood of open-air dance halls and cabarets, Utrillo, a Montmartre native and son of artist Suzanne Valadon, had a pared-down style and tirelessly returned to the same place. A living symbol of Montmartre, he rarely left his fiefdom, an easel under his arm, "shirt and sockless, an empty liter bottle under his arm," wrote Max Jacob in Le Figaro artistique illustré in 1931.

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