Maurice Utrillo (French, 1883–1955), born in Paris, was a painter specialized in cityscapes. His mother, Suzanne Valadon (French, 1865–1938), was an artist's model, and Utrillo grew up with her in the famous Montmartre quarter of the city, which is known for its artistic and bohemian community. Valadon modeled for French artists, such as Berthe Morisot (1841–1895),Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), and was inspired by them to begin to create art herself. She taught herself to paint, was mentored by Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), and soon became known for her artistic ability. Utrillo's youth was troubled by alcoholism, truancy, and mental illness, but he was urged by his mother to explore art as a way to deal with his struggles.
With her guidance, Utrillo began to paint, and soon exhibited a real artistic talent. His paintings began to win him acclaim, and by 1920, his city scenes and landscapes were known around the world. Some of his most famous works depicted the city of Paris, with a special focus on his Montmartre neighborhood. Perhaps most famous are his depictions of the Lapin Agile, a cabaret in the neighborhood that was frequented by the artists and writers of the time. Although he was troubled by his health in later years, Utrillo continued to paint scenes of his neighborhood from his window, and from memory. He passed away in Montmartre in 1955, and since his death, several retrospectives of his work have taken place in Montmartre and in major museums throughout the world. His work is part of the collections at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, among many other institutions.