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- ($160,000 - $230,000)
Impressionist/Modern Day Sale
22 June 2011
London, King Street
Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955)
L'église Saint-Pierre et le Sacré-Coeur à Montmartre
signed 'Maurice.Utrillo.V.' (lower right)
oil on board laid down on canvas
24 x 32 5/8 in. (61 x 83.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1910
Rose-Marie Kanzler; sale, Sotheby's, London, 5 December 1990, lot 153. Mrs Lankar.
Gallery Sakai, Tokyo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
J. Fabris & C. Paillier, L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo, Paris, 2009, no. 69 (illustrated p. 126).
The period around 1910 in which Utrillo painted the present work, was a crucial juncture in his early career. Although his application to the École des Beaux Arts had been rejected in 1909, Utrillo gained initial recognition from both critics and collectors. The dealer Louis Libaude signed a contract with him and promised his mother, the artist Suzanne Valadon, that he would look after her son. Soon after, three of Utrillo's landscapes were shown at the Salon d'Automne. Utrillo tried to work outdoors, but was unnerved by attention from onlookers, and so he retired to his studio on the rue Cortot in Montmartre, where he worked, composing his geometrically patterned preparatory drawings from memory and his supply of postcards. His colours were chosen with precision and with the composition completely worked out in his head.
It was during this time that Utrillo realised a personal and unmistakable style in his priode blanche, the White Period. So named for the bleached and ashen palette he employed in his views of the neighbourhood, the artist sometimes mixed plaster of Paris (made in Montmartre) with his white oil colours to mimic the weathered facades of buildings. Through his paintings we trace the streets of Montmartre and in the present work the dominant Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, the building of which was not entirely finished until 1914. Vlaminck wrote in Portraits avant dcs (Paris, 1943), 'One must give an important place in his work to his cathedrals and churches. The most spectacular paintings are perhaps certain cathedrals which contain a true mystical power. When Utrillo paints the imposing bulk of a basilica or the pointed spire of a village chapel, he unconsciously expresses the love that man feels toward the Creator'. The curiously detached and unsentimental manner, bordering on severity, in Utrillo's White Period paintings is this artist's most genuine moment of uncompromising modernity.
IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART
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