Rue du Mont-Cenis
Even though he often lived outside Paris, Maurice Utrillo had known the area of Montmartre since his childhood, as his mother Suzanne Valadon (1865 – 1938) had a studio there at 12 Rue Cortot, and which he would later share. Utrillo was living in Montmartre at the beginning of the war, lodging with the owner of a small restaurant informally known as Le casse-croûte [The Caff]. He could see the Rue du Mont-Cenis from the window of his bedroom and painted several views of this place. The road hugs the slope of the Butte Montmartre and looks over Paris.
This is a large painting that he produced in the studio. The perspective lines are drawn out with a ruler. Utrillo uses thick paint, consisting mostly of plaster that was easily available in Montmartre. He tried an autumnal scene: the branches on the trees are bare, and the cold light and grey sky are tempered by the brown tones of the block of flats with its shutters closed, and by the roof of the small house. This was the “Berlioz House,” the home of Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) from 1834 to 1837. Utrillo did another view of this house that is also in the Musée de l’Orangerie. Here again, he added the French flag and his first signature has been scratched off and replaced.