Montmartre, c. 1930
oil on canvas
50.3 x 61.3 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Bequest of Elva I. Bulgin
Maurice Utrillo, the son of artist and model Susan Valadon, began to paint when he was in his early twenties, at his mother’s urging, in the hope that it would remedy his alcoholism. Continually challenged by depression and mental illness, the highly prolific Utrillo approached his painting as therapy, finding consolation in depicting the street scenes of the rustic artists’ quarter of Montmartre. Sometimes using tourist postcards as his inspiration, Utrillo’s captivating viewpoints convey the simplicity and charm of suburban life. The WAG picture, which shows a quaint rectilinear alleyway with pedestrians, celebrates the artist’s investigation of bold colours and vigorous brushwork, which betray his interest in the Expressionist style.