DAILY ART FIX: Suzanne Valadon: The Model Who Became a Master Painter

Art world links which caught my eye…

Suzanne Valadon, “Joy of Life

A model for some great Modern artists turned out to have her own natural artistic talent. A current exhibit in Philadelphia displays the works of Suzanne Valadon (September 23, 1865-April 7, 1938).

“You’re one of us!” In 1894, Edgar Degas, an Impressionist master known for being an incorrigible misogynist, couldn’t help but express his admiration before the drawings that a young brunette, recommended by Toulouse-Lautrec, had brought him at his home in Paris, on Rue Victor-Masseì. In fact, he was the first to buy a piece of work from the artist, whom he nicknamed “the terrible Maria” and praised for possessing the “genius for drawing.”

Born Marie-Cleìmentine Valadon in 1865 in the Limousin region, the young woman was already renowned in the art world of the day, but for quite a different reason. She had made a name as “Maria,” the star model of Renoir (see below) and Puvis de Chavannes. Her expressive beauty, her supple body, and her actress’s agility saw her pose for their paintings as a pink-cheeked dancer, a lady wearing long white gloves, or a stunning bather. She also embodied the contortionist mermaid painted by Austrian artist Gustav Wertheimer and inspired the tired reveler in Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Hangover.

But on the other side of the easel sat a gifted observer, not a mere muse. An innate talent, she had used chalk and pencils to sketch out frozen instants and snapshots of life on scraps of paper or the sidewalk since she was a girl. “She spent huge amounts of time in studios, so she was also watching, listening, learning,” says Nancy Ireson, chief curator of the Barnes Foundation. “And I think perhaps modeling also helps you to understand how pictures are made and what makes a good composition. She was self-taught, but she was exposed to many different artists and clearly had a great visual awareness.”


Suzanne Valadon “Self-Portrait” 1927 

Read the full article here: FRANCE-AMERIQUE – Suzanne Valadon: The Model Who Became a Master Painter


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