June 13th, 2012
The letter this week is the Valiant V
In this post V stands for Suzanne Valadon, who was born Marie-Clementine Valadon to an unmarried laundress, Madeleine Valadron. Her father was probably a young man who worked at a nearby mill in Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, France, and he was killed shortly after Marie-Clementine's birth.
Madeleine moved with her baby to Montmartre where she worked as a charwoman, and Marie-Clementine grew up very much on her own. In her early teens she joined an acrobatic group but following a serious accident that nearly killed her she left the group and at 15 she went to the Place Pigalle in order to become an artist's model.
She was a beautiful young girl with 'cognac coloured' hair and stunning blue eyes, and she soon came to the attention of many of the artists of the day, including Purvis de Chavannes and Auguste Renoir. It seemed the relationship between model and artist was a condition of life in Montmartre at that time, and Madeleine, at 17, became pregnant.
As a model for Renoir
Soon after the birth of her baby (Maurice) Valadon began to model for Toulouse-Lautrec who saw her drawings and encouraged her to change her name to Suzanne, a name that could be respected and remembered. Lautrec advised her to take her drawings to Degas, who immediately recognized her talent, bought 17 of these drawings and hung them among his Cezannes, Gauguins and Van Goghs.
Suzanne Valadon - self portrait
Suzanne Valadon had a complicated life. Her son, Maurice Utrillo (of whom I wrote last week) caused her much sorrow and anxiety. She was perhaps not the best of mothers, but she was a truly gifted artist who formed a style all her own.
She is only now beginning to gain the respect she deserves as one of the great painters of the twentieth century and her work is exhibited in many of the finest museums and galleries throughout the world.
Information gleaned from 'The Art World Online".
For more interesting Vs click here and visit ABC Wednesday with thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt and her valiant volunteers.