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Suzanne Valadon

(1865—1938)


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(b Bessines-sur-Gartempe, nr. Limoges, 23 Sept. 1865; d Paris, 7 Apr. 1938).

French painter. As a girl she worked as a circus acrobat, but had to abandon this after a fall and then became an artists' model and the reigning beauty of Montmartre. The artists she posed for included Renoir, Puvis de Chavannes, and Toulouse-Lautrec (each of whom numbered among her lovers). Lautrec brought her drawings to the attention of Degas, who encouraged her to develop her artistic talent and she became a full-time painter in 1896. Valadon owed little to formal training or to the influence of the artists with whom she associated and her painting has a fresh and personal vision. Her subjects included portraits and still lifes, but she was at her best in figure paintings, which often have a splendid earthy vigour and a striking use of bold contour and flat colour (The Blue Room, 1923, Pompidou Centre, Paris). After the First World War she achieved critical and financial success, but in her final years her health was undermined by the excesses of her life. Maurice Utrillo was her son.

Subjects: Art.


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