Maurice Utrillo 1883-1955
N04943 Eglise de St Hilaire (Church at St Hilaire) c.1911
Inscribed 'Maurice Utrillo V.' b.r.
Oil on millboard, 19 3/4 x 25 5/8 (50 x 65)
Purchased from the Storran Gallery through the Stafford Gallery, London (Benson Fund) 1938
Prov: Léon Zamaron, Paris (gift from the artist's mother); with Galerie Bing, Paris; with Storran Gallery, London, 1938
Exh: Early Paintings by Maurice Utrillo, Storran Gallery, London, June-July 1938 (10); Contemporary French Art, Nottingham Art Gallery, April-May 1939 (198, repr.); Contemporary French Painting, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, May-June 1939 (174); Utrillo, Central Museum, Tokyo, March-May 1967 (18, repr. in colour); Kyoto Municipal Art Gallery, May-June 1967 (18, repr. in colour); Cultural Centre of Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka, June-July 1967 (18, repr. in colour); Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, July 1967 (18, repr. in colour)
Lit: Paul Pétridès, L'Oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo (Paris 1959), No.246, Vol.1, p.302, repr. p.303; John Rothenstein, Brave Day, Hideous Night (London 1966), p.27
Repr: L'Art Vivant, No.214, August-September 1937, p.203, incorrectly as 'Eglise de Saint-Jean-aux-Bois'
The church at Saint-Hilaire-en-Lignières (Cher), in the centre of France, a Romanesque church with a slate roof and an interesting crypt. The apse, the choir and the transept date from the 12th century and are classified as an historical monument, but the nave and the clock tower are a 16th century restoration.
This picture seems to have been painted from a picture postcard which shows the church from exactly the same viewpoint but takes in more of the view to left and right, and at the top [reproduced p.739; not reproduced here]. Utrillo has not only concentrated on the central part of the image, showing the church itself, but has introduced a tree on the right to balance the composition, and another smaller tree in the centre, behind the cross. A few details, such as the corner-stones and the railings, have been eliminated.
According to Paul Pétridès (letters of 4 June 1953 and 11 January 1954) this picture was given by Utrillo's mother Suzanne Valadon to M. Zamaron, Commissaire Spécial at the Préfecture de Police.
The church was identified by the Abbé Georges Tixier and the picture postcard was traced with the help of the Abbé J. Seveau of St-Hilaire-en-Lignières.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.738-9, reproduced p.739