French Impressionist painter Maurice Utrillo was born in Paris on December 26, 1883. The illegitimate son of the painter Suzanne Valadon, Utrillo led an extremely bohemian life. Despite alcoholism and drug addiction, however, he was a prolific painter, turning out vast numbers of Parisian street scenes, especially in and around Montmartre, where he lived.
Except for what he learned from his mother, he had no formal art training and, in fact, only took up painting as a form of therapy during one of his periodic spells in a detox clinic. He started off by making copies of Parisian picture postcards and this is reflected in the meticulous, almost photographic, quality of all his work.
He began exhibiting in 1909 and thereafter was closely associated with the Impressionists, especially Camille Pissarro, although Utrillo left his own indelible mark — “a wild thirst for reality” was how he succinctly described it himself. In his “white period” (1909-1916), his palette consisted of very light colors, but thereafter they became much deeper and richer in tone. A reformed alcoholic, Utrillo became extremely devout in old age. He died on November 5, 1955 in Dax, in southwestern France.