Yesterday, Wednesday, we ventured to Montmartre. This is the historical home of artists, particularly those of more bohemian tastes and left wing politics. Names such as Dali, Modigliani, Picasso, Mondrian, Pisarro, Van Gogh, and Monet are whispered by the walls of these buildings. The area is filled with artists, buskers and vendors.

Sacre Coeur, a large basilica built in part to make a political statement about the strength of the French state and to give Monmartre something to sooth their losses from the revolutionary Commune of 1871. We prefer the smaller and older Church of Saint Pierre behind Sacre Coeur. That site has had a catholic house of worship on it since 250 and the church now known as the Church of Saint Pierre was first built in 1134.


For this visit we concentrated on the Monmartre Museum, housed in the building in which many artists lived and painted around the beginning of the 20th century. Their current exhibit of artists of Montmartre included Suzanne Valadon, whom we have come to know and love in this trip. She began her art career as a model at age 15, posing for the likes of Renoir (Dance at Bougival, Girl Braiding Her Hair, and City Dance), Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec (The Hangover).

Suzanne Valadon painted by an unknown artist

Suzanne Valadon painted by an unknown artist

She is said to have often had affairs with the artists for whom she modeled. At age 18 she had a child whose paternity is uncertain, However, several years later her good friend, Miguel Utrillo, signed papers recognizing Maurice as his son. Maurice Utrillo was to become a successful artist whose sales supp0rted his mother and himself. Degas purchased her line drawings and encouraged her to pursue her own art. Artists including Derain, Picasso and Braque paid homage to her at her funeral in 1938. Valadon painted still lifes, nudes, and landscapes. Here is a small sample of her work.

The apartment and studio where she and Maurice lived for many years have been recreated. Jean took this autoportrait in the studio.

Jean - Autoportrait dans Atelier de Suzanne Veladon

There are many more sights and sounds that I could share, but space and time are limited. Suffice it to say that you should visit this area of Paris and venture beyond Sacre Coeur or the main square where artists and vendors jostle for the attention of tourists. The parks and passageways have many surprises which I have not mentioned.



About Paul

I'm retired, but working at painting, photography, and song writing. We like to travel and paint plein air in new places. Of course that's also where photography comes into the picture, so to speak. Sometimes I get inspired to write songs about the people and places we visit.
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2 Responses to Montmartre

  1. Antoinette says:

    A UW history professor, Raymond Jonas, has written a very interesting book called France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart. The story of that big white church actually begins with the last outbreak of bubonic plague in France, in Marseille. The mural above the altar at Sacre Coeur tells the story of how religious devotion ended that plague. I’m not one to believe in faith healing, but it is a fascinating book. In all my years of studying history, I had encountered only the revolutionary side of French history. The church is a living expression of the non-revolutionary side of French life, and made me see a lot of things in France in a totally different light. I told Ray that I thought he had written a very important book, one that explained the history of the Paris Commune better than anything I’d ever read. The church of Sacre Coeur is about more than appears to the eye of the usual tourist.

  2. Jean-Paul Dumont says:

    I strongly suspect that the place to which you refer and where painters and merchants jostle for the attention of tourists is the Place du Tertre. Your pictures are always nice.

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