The Bernot House

La maison Bernot

This painting depicts a group of people going down the Rue du Mont-Cenis on the hill of Montmartre in Paris. The bell tower of the Sacré Coeur basilica, which was completed in 1912, is recognisable on the right. The angle chosen, which must have been taken from a post card, allows the "Bernot house" to be seen on the left. Utrillo painted this canvas while he was living in the department of Ain, far from the capital, and according to one of his biographers, he "remembered the most humble of details and, under his brush, he arranged them into a precise and charming list..." The post card probably served as framework for his memories. Utrillo had lived in Montmartre since his birth, and when he was temporarily removed from Paris, it seems as though he missed this neighbourhood.
Here his technique differs from his other works. He uses thick black strokes to accentuate the architectural lines that contrast with the liveliness and colours of the people. Amongst the crowd, there is only one man seen from behind on the left. He is a painter holding his palette in front of his easel. The long-skirted women with heavy boots appear with exaggerated silhouettes, similar to those represented by Utrillo in La mairie au drapeau [Flag Over the Town Hall], painted that same year and also conserved at the Musée de l'Orangerie.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter