Biography of Suzanne Valadon

“… Marie Clémentine Valadon, born September 23, 1865, father unknown, in Bessines sur Gartempe in the Limousin region.  Utrillo’s mother, after choosing various domiciles, takes up residence at Impasse Guelma in Montmartre, a choice that was not to be inconsequential since the linen maid set up her laundry “business” nearby the newly built artists’ shops…

She quickly learned to overcome her condition as a woman by turning handicaps into advantages.  On the lookout for greater material security, she approached Puvis de Chavannes:  She became his model, he became her lover.  Clémentine Valadon, or “Suzanne” for close friends, was the Nana de Zola coveted for her charm and beauty.  On her son’s birth certificate, she said she was “seamstress”.  It can be supposed that she spent more time weaving or unravelling sentimental adventures than drawing a needle or holding an iron.

Before becoming the model (and mistress) to Puvis de Chavannes, she had met Miguel Utrillo y Morlius.  At the bottom of a pencil portrait he made of her, we can read Memory of the seven-year war!  An eloquent dedication by way of an epitaph!  Tired of the tumultuous loves, the wounded lover returned to Spain for a few years.  When he came back to Paris in 1891, he recognised Maurice Valadon as his son and asked for French nationality for him.  Then the one who made Pablo Picasso discover Montmartre and Paris disappeared, finally this time.

By frequenting painters, Clémentine, having become Suzanne Valadon, discovered her own talent.  Taking her son or her concierge’s daughter as models, she produced some very beautiful drawings….  Suzanne threw herself into the world of the arts with frenzy.  And she was nicknamed the terrible Maria!  She posed for Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir.  She made the acquaintance of Degas thanks to the sculptor Bartholomé.  Degas, the master, discovered her drawings with enthusiasm:  “My girl, it’s done!  You are one of us!” he cried.  Everything came very fast from then on for Suzanne.  She painted her first oils, including the famous portrait of Erik Satie, with whom she had a short affair.  And then, in 1895, there came recognition:  She was admitted to show at the Nationale
Page | by Dr. Radut