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Maison Natale de Jeanne d’Arc à Domrémy (Vosges) / Birthplace of Jeanne d’Arc at Domrémy (Vosges)



Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955)
Maison Natale de Jeanne d’Arc à Domrémy (Vosges) / Birthplace of Jeanne d’Arc at Domrémy (Vosges)
watercolour, gouache and pencil on buff paper
AGLC 381 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

It seems that Maurice Utrillo painted Jeanne d’Arc’s house in the Lorraine region for the first time in 1930;1 he then reprised this theme many times in oil or watercolour, the latest versions of which date to 1947.2 The painter, a deeply religious man, felt a particular devotion to Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431), the Catholic saint and protector of France who was canonised in 1920. The legend of the young peasant girl, who became a warrior and fought for the King of France until she was burnt at the stake, is one of the founding myths of that country. The house where she was born had its façade modified after her death and was declared a historical monument in 1840. In this fresh and lively watercolour, Utrillo depicted it in detail, not forgetting, through a few naively sketched figures, the presence of tourists, both pious and curious, who continue to visit this eminently symbolic location. Utrillo dated the work to 1935 and dedicated it to Monsignor Mégnin. This mention, referring to a gift offered to the prelate, reminds us that Monsignor Jean-Baptiste Mégnin (1883-1965), Bishop of Angoulême from 1934 to 1965, presided over the religious wedding ceremony of the artist and the actress Lucie Valore, in Angoulême, on 3 April 1935.

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About the artist

Born in Montmartre, he was the son of the painter Suzanne Valadon, who had modelled for Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He was encouraged by his mother to paint, to treat his mental illness and alcoholism, and he was trained by her. He developed an idiosyncratic style with precise brushwork in detailed, rather sad depictions of churches, factories, barracks and empty roads, which he painted from nature, from postcards or from memory. By 1910 his work attracted critical praise, and by 1920 he was internationally acclaimed.

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