Born in Paris in 1883, Maurice Utrillo was the son of the artist and professional model Suzanne Valadon. Much has been said of Utrillo's dissipated days. His life was marked by a long and tragic series of alcoholic problems, periods of deep depression and anxiety, followed by visits to hospitals and nursing homes for treatments. From a young age, upon a physician's advice, his mother encouraged Utrillo to begin painting as an emotional outlet, as a means of regaining equilibrium and peace.
Beginning in 1902, Utrillo created pictures of urban landscapes with considerable style and originality. The finest examples of his work, however, are from the period 1909-1914 when Utrillo developed his outstanding manière blanche. Painted in 1914, La rue de l'Eperon et rue de la Coutellerie à Pontoise (Val-d'Oise) belongs to this period.
Utrillo established his own creative style through self-study and advice from his mother. He had an aversion to painting outdoors, while people looked on, preferring instead to work in the isolation of his room, relying on memory and on the pile of postcards which his mother had given to him. Throughout his paintings, of which La rue de l'Eperon et rue de la Coutellerie à Pontoise (Val-d'Oise) is one of the finest examples, Utrillo has immortalized many of the most important 20th century French urban landscapes. Although his life was plagued by alcoholism, Utrillo owes his redemption to painting, an artistic and yet therapeutic practice that helped him release and preserve his uncontestable genius.