The Butte Pinson

La Butte Pinson

The Butte Pinson is some ten kilometres to the north of Paris, at Montmagny. Maurice Utrillo lived there from 1896 with his mother, the artist Suzanne Valadon (1865 – 1938), her first husband and his grandmother. His stepfather had a house built on this hill in order to take the young Maurice away from the disastrous influence of bohemia life in Montmartre. Utrillo began painting, and while in Montmagny produced a series of pictures between 1905 and 1908. Small coloured huts can be discerned behind the wooden fences and screens of bare trees. It is therefore an autumn or winter scene.
Suzanne Valadon advised her son in his choice of colours. The overall, rather dark impression here is enlivened with small dabs of colour. We can see that Utrillo added touches of black to the trunks and branches that were initially painted red or green. But the branches that stand out against the sky have kept these colours and enliven the upper part of the painting. Forming a counterpoint, the black silhouette of a tree in the foreground on the left darkens the canvas. One small section of light sky at the top of the painting brings a little air into the very compact motifs.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter