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Suzanne Valadon: a world of one's own...

From October 27, 2023 to February 11, 2024, the Nantes Museum of Arts offers a different look at the astonishing career of Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938). Model, painter, figure of the Montmartre avant-gardes, this self-taught artist sees her journey evoked through 120 paintings and works on paper.

Suzanne Valadon. L’Acrobate ou La Roue, 1916Collection Weisman-Michel, en dépôt au Musée de Montmartre, Paris. Photo : © Stéphane Pons.
Suzanne Valadon. L’Acrobate ou La Roue, 1916 Collection Weisman-Michel, en dépôt au Musée de Montmartre, Paris. Photo : © Stéphane Pons.

After a brief career as a circus acrobat, Marie-Clémentine Valadon posed as a model for Auguste Renoir, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It is the latter who will give the young Marie-Clémentine the first name of Suzanne, in reference to the episode from the Bible "Suzanne and the old men". During the posing sessions, she assimilated the know-how of the artists and began to draw with graphite, charcoal and red chalk.

Suzanne Valadon.Les Baigneuses, 1923Don de la Société des Amis du musée, 1957. Nantes, Musée d’arts. Photo : © RMNGrand Palais / Gérard Blot.
Suzanne Valadon.Les Baigneuses, 1923 Don de la Société des Amis du musée, 1957. Nantes, Musée d’arts. Photo : © RMNGrand Palais / Gérard Blot.

In 1883, she gave birth to a son, Maurice, who would be recognized by his putative father, the Catalan engineer Miquel Utrillo. Three years later, she moved into the house where Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec rented a studio. She poses for him, they become lovers and the painter having noticed her talent, he recommends her to Edgar Degas. The latter is enthusiastic and she becomes his student. She never posed for him. He encourages her, buys her early drawings.

Suzanne Valadon, Le Sacré-Coeur vu du jardin de la rue Cortot, 1916.Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Bertrand Prévost.
Suzanne Valadon, Le Sacré-Coeur vu du jardin de la rue Cortot, 1916.Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Bertrand Prévost.

Rich in her past as a model, Suzanne Valadon began oil painting in 1892. She painted with frankness, without detour, Her works sold and protected her from want.

After marrying the stockbroker Paul Moussis, she divorced in 1909 and moved in with the painter André Utter, whom she married in 1914.

Suzanne Valadon, Nu à la couverture rayée, 1922. Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de Paris. Photo : © CCØ Paris Musées / Musée d’Art moderne de Paris.
Suzanne Valadon, Nu à la couverture rayée, 1922. Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de Paris. Photo : © CCØ Paris Musées / Musée d’Art moderne de Paris.

The art dealer Berthe Weil accompanied Suzanne Valadon from the beginning of the 20th century, notably offering her 3 personal exhibitions (in 1915, 1927, 1928). Suzanne will also participate in exhibitions organized by the Society of Modern Women Artists, created in 1931.


Suzanne Valadon et ses chiens, vers 1930.  Paris, Centre Pompidou, bibliothèque Kandinsky. Photo : Bibliothèque Kandinsky © akg-images / Mondadori Portfolio / Archivio GBB
Suzanne Valadon et ses chiens, vers 1930. Paris, Centre Pompidou, bibliothèque Kandinsky. Photo : Bibliothèque Kandinsky © akg-images / Mondadori Portfolio / Archivio GBB

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44000 Nantes


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