Saint Peter’s Church, Montmartre

Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre

Utrillo often painted the church of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, built in the 12th century and extensively restored from 1900 to 1905. In 1914, it was already dominated by the Sacré Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, started in 1875 and whose exterior spaces had just been completed. Here we can see two of its domes and the bell tower, itself completed in 1912.
One of the many versions of this subject, this painting in the Musée de l’Orangerie shows the facade of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre behind the entrance gate. It is possible that Utrillo took a postcard as his model as the composition is very symmetrical.
Here the artist is keen to express the elements in the composition through different styles of brushwork. The pavement and road are painted with delicate horizontal strokes with alternating light and dark tones to convey the uneven surface. He uses a thicker impasto, his characteristic white, for the facades of the houses and Saint Peter’s church, and for the domes and bell tower of Sacré Cœur. The sky has more compact brushwork reducing the depth. The windows and openings in the buildings are closed or opaque. Only the leaves on the trees, rendered in small green and yellow brushstrokes, bring some life to this Paris scene.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter