Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938)
Suzanne Valadon, the pseudonym of Marie-Clémentine Valadon, painter, mother of Maurice Utrillo and a prominent figure in Montmartre, embodies the emancipation of the female artist.
The daughter of a laundress and an unknown father, she lived a Bohemian life in Montmartre: a circus acrobat in 1880, later the favourite model and mistress of famous painters like Puvis de Chavanne, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Encouraged by Degas: "You are one of ours", Suzanne Valadon with courage and determination became a painter in a world hitherto reserved for men. In 1894 she was the first woman admitted to the Fine Arts Society. She met with success during her lifetime, enabling her to protect her son from his excesses.
Her personal life is like a novel: in 1883, aged 18, she gave birth to an illegitimate son, with whom she had a transgressive and destructive relationship, engaging in a passionate love affair with his best friend, the painter André Utter. Her son’s successive internments for alcoholism were the result of this tragic relationship between mother and son. Suzanne Valadon will always be indissociable from her son Maurice Utrillo: a unique example in the history of art.