Maurice Utrillo
(Paris, 1883-1955, Dax, Landes)
The Butte Pinson, ca. 1905
Oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm
Signed lower left: Maurice U. Valadon

The terrain here is split up into tiny gardens and leaves the painter no room, so that he has to set up his easel in the midst of fruit trees, which are cut by the edges of the picture; the houses and walls display only their disorderly rear aspects, nasty and neglected, and yet, nestled between the hills, they exude a certain atmosphere of homeliness. It recalls the gardens of Pontoise and Auvers, painted by Pissarro, Cézanne and van Gogh. But everything in the dominant green is more drawn than painted, with an intractable brush. We are in the northern outskirts of Paris, not far from Saint-Denis, on the boundary between Montmagny, where Utrillo’s mother had a house, and Pierrefitte on the Butte Pinson. Utrillo, about twenty-three years old, is self-taught; his mother Suzanne Valadon, once a model for Degas and Lautrec, and herself a painter, had put a brush in his hand to distract him from drinking, but had given him no instruction. The Bührle Collection's painting, signed "Maurice U. Valadon", typically for Utrillo’s early period, must have been done around 1905.