The French painter of the post-impressionist era Suzanne Valadon (actually Marie-Clémentine Valadon) was born on September 23, 1865 in Bessines-sur-Gartempe (near Limoges). Around 1870, she came to Paris with her mother and lived on the Montmartre. A fall from the trapeze meant the end of her career as trapeze artist. In the following period, she was a model for painters like Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chauvannes (1824 – 1898), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919), and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1864 – 1901).
Like so many other women, she was self-taught as a painter. She took painting lessons from Toulouse-Lautrec and became his lover. She later became the lover of the French composer and pianist Alfred Eric Leslie Satie (1866 – 1925) and many other famous personalities.
Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) taught her the art of etching. He bought her first drawings and introduced her works to the art collectors and dealers. In 1883, her son Maurice (the future painter Maurice Utrillo 1883 – 1955), was born. In 1894, five drawings by the artist were exhibited in the Salon de la Nationale.
Suzanne Valadon later turned increasingly to painting. She created countless self-portraits, floral still lifes, and many female nudes. In 1896, the painter married banker Paul Mousis. She later married her lover, the painter André Utter (1886 – 1948), who she met in 1909. Utter had a particularly strong influence on Suzanne Valadon. There were many exhibitions in the following period, including one at Galerie Berthe Weill. Together with her son and André Utter, the artist purchased the Saint-Bernard castle in Beaujolais and settled there. Toward the end of her life, she participated in group exhibitions in Holland and New York. Starting in 1935, her life was very restricted because of diabetes and urimea.
Suzanne Valadon died on April 7, 1938 as the result of a stroke in Paris. To the very end, the artist was often disparaged and denied recognition by the press and trade literature, even though she was already one of the most important women painters during her lifetime and famous far beyond the borders of France. Suzanne Valadon left behind a body of work that included almost 500 paintings and about 300 drawings and prints.