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Suzanne Valadon: The Mistress of Montmartre Hardcover – February 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st U.S. ed edition (February 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031219921X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312199210
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

She posed for Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec; Degas was so impressed by her drawings that he became the first to purchase a work by this self-taught female artist. But though Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) gloried in the carefree, bohemian artistic scene of Paris's Montmartre neighborhood in the 1880s and '90s, she really came into her own during the early years of the 20th century, when a passionate love for a man 20 years her junior led her to abandon a bourgeois husband and devote herself anew to art. She set to work with a renewed serenity but the same "unfeminine" boldness of line and earthy sexuality that had dismayed tradition-minded viewers from the beginning. It was she who taught her illegitimate son, Maurice Utrillo, to paint in a desperate attempt to wean him from his addiction to alcohol. His fame surpasses hers today in part because male art historians preferred salacious tales of Valadon's many loves and scandalous exploits to sober assessments of her artistic gifts. British art biographer June Rose restores Valadon to her proper place as a peer of the great postimpressionists in a readable narrative that puts her freewheeling personal life into perspective as a product of the same refusal to be constrained by conventional wisdom that fired her art. --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Montmartre was only a Parisian village when Marie-Clementine Valadon, the illegitimate daughter of a laundress, moved there with her mother in 1870 at the age of five. By her mid-teens, Valadon was drawing "with instinctive and growing confidence," had performed in a local circus and was modeling for artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and lesser-known bohemians. At 18, now calling herself Suzanne, she gave birth to Maurice Utrillo, whose father she did not identify but whose name was derived from a Catalonian lover. Valadon's work as a model, Rose shows, culminated three years later when she served as a subject for Renoir's The Bathers. Shrewd and self-taught, Valadon moved from subject to sketcher and painter, producing portraits, still lifes, landscapes and earthy nudes that earned praise from Degas, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec and put her at the center of the area's artistic ferment and scandals. Married twice?the second time to a painter more than 20 years her junior?Valadon aged well and stayed at her easel and in public life even when her pictures had lost their clientele. Given a paucity of documentation, British biographer Rose (Modigliani) examines her subject's work chronologically and fills out Valadon's doings with vignettes of Montmartre and of the artists she accepted as patrons or took as lovers. But the drama here comes less from Valadon's love and work than from her wayward son, whose artistic genius eclipsed her modest talent but whose destructive drunkenness forced Valadon to put him away, between paintings, in country madhouses. Rose's biography, which carefully if unexceptionally takes us to Valadon's death in 1938 at 72, tells the story of Utrillo's as well as his mother's life. B&w and color photos.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "cwr366" on April 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is a devourable treat for anyone who loves Paris...the look, the smell, the taste, and the feel of Paris. Lovers of existential experience is in store. If you didn't know Suzanne Valadon before, you will wonder why. She was the heart and soul of "The City of Light" before and beyond the time when the lights were there! She was a lover to many and a friend to all. The photographs and historical tidbits truly enhance the already delightful time well spent with this book. I hated for it to be over! June Rose is an engaging writer. I want to read more of her work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CMMBookReview on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although an artist myself, I was completely unaware of the life of Suzanne Valadon, whose colorful career included early life as model and mistress of many 19th century Parisian painters, including Puvis de Cchavannes, a young Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Hers is the face and figure of numberous female images in the work of these and other major impressionists. As if this weren't enough, her career as a notable painter herself has been largely overlooked. She was mentored by unlikely friendship with Degas, who both admired and collected her pictures. Not only this, but she was the mother of Utrillo, whom she herself taught to paint, and who later elipsed her own fame. The author does a remarkable job bringing back to light the adventurous and spirited life of this remarkable woman among the giants of Impressionistism. The book is well writtten, full of interesting anecdote and fact. Text is liberally supplimented with illustrations of Suzanne Valadon's drawings,paintings and etchings, as well as photographs of her and the people she knew throughout her life. For anyone with an interest in Impressionism and women making a mark in the world of art this is a very good read. Such persons deserve to be remembered, and we can thank the writer of this biograply for that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debra J on July 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift. Nicely illustrated and narrative very compelling and easy to follow. Was recommended over another more recent novel about the same person by another reviewer. This one I think is more biographical in the true sense.
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