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Image: By Suzanne Valadon -, Public Domain,

Characterized by plaster mixed white impasto, the picturesque cityscapes of the French painter Maurice Utrillo have the power to delight simple and sophisticated tastes simultaneously. Born as Maurice Valadon to an unknown father on 26 December 1883 in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France, Utrillo was the son of the painter and artist's model Suzanne Valadon. In 1891 when Utrillo was only a child a Spanish artist Miguel Utrillo, a friend of his mother, signed a legal document acknowledging paternity and gave his own name to the young Maurice.

A highly neurotic youngster, Utrillo had inclined towards truancy and by the time he was eighteen had become an alcoholic and temporarily admitted to an asylum in 1904. Upon a physician's advice, his mother encouraged him to take up painting as an emotional outlet to regain his equilibrium. The experiment worked well and Utrillo soon showed real artistic talent and produced thousands of oils, gouaches, watercolors, pencil sketches relying chiefly on his memories or the picture postcards in his possession.

After 1910 Utrillo's work attracted critical attention and by 1920 he reached the peak of his career and became internationally acclaimed. In 1929, the French Republic awarded him Cross of the Légion d'honneur. Montmartre provided Utrillo with a subject for hundreds of paintings. Fascinated by the sad little streets and miserable bistros of the industrial suburbs, the artist spent his life documenting the alleyways or monuments of Montmartre and painted some of the great cathedrals of France and panoramas of Brittany and Corsica.

An admirer of Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro, Utrillo's buildings achieved their characteristic texture through the addition of plaster with paint. His solidity of composition, his gift for simplification, and his unerring sense of color relation w instinctive to him. He was a complete individualist who defies all

In his 1935 he married Lucie Valor and moved to La Vesinet, just outside Paris. Struggling with his mental health and treatments the bohemian of Montmartre was died on 5 November 1955 in Hotel Splendid in Dax and was hurried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

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