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5 Fast Facts: Suzanne Valadon

Blog Category:  5 Fast Facts
Painting of a light-skinned girl with short, curly, dark brown hair sitting on a low stone wall. She leans against one of her legs propped up on the wall, the other leg dangling off the side. She wears a blue dress with patterns, and is surrounded by lush greenery and red flowers.

Impress your friends with five fast facts about Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938), whose work is in NMWA’s collection.

Painting of a light-skinned girl with short, curly, dark brown hair sitting on a low stone wall. She leans against one of her legs propped up on the wall, the other leg dangling off the side. She wears a blue dress with patterns, and is surrounded by lush greenery and red flowers.
Suzanne Valadon, Girl on a Small Wall, 1930; Oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 29 in.; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

1. Artist Model Turned Model Artist

As a young woman, Valadon acted as a model for well-known artists including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The enchanting female figure in Renoir’s Dance at Bougival (1883) is said to be Valadon. Inspired and mentored by these artists, she began her own career in her 30s.

2. Bosom Buddies

In the late 1800s, Valadon and Edgar Degas developed a close friendship that lasted until his death in 1917. Degas, who affectionately addressed Valadon as “ferocious” and a “she-devil,” championed her work and taught her the etching printmaking technique.

Painting of a white vase with gold embellishments holding a bouquet of eight flowers and a few leaves. The colorful flowers have long stems and are humble in size, and stand before a blue wall and red sheet in the background. The sheet hangs down, tumbling into a heap next to the vase.
Suzanne Valadon, Bouquet of Flowers in an Empire Vase, 1920; Oil on canvas, 28 ¾ x 21 ½ in.; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay

3. All in the Family

Valadon’s son Maurice Utrillo and second husband André Utter were also recognized artists.

4. Collectables

The five works by Valadon in NMWA’s collection are a representative sample of her preferred subject matter—still lifes, nudes, and portraits—and her favored artistic techniques of printmaking and oil painting.

5. Out of this World

A crater on Venus is titled Valadon. Her namesake is in good company, as all 899 Cytherean calderas are named after famous women or female first names. Other artists in NMWA’s collection have their own Venusian cavities, including Valadon’s gallery neighbors Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975) and Frida Kahlo (1907–1954).

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