Born in Paris with the name of Maurice Valadon, Maurice Utrillo specialized in painting city scenes, especially of his beloved Paris. It is said that he is one of the most copied and forged artist in history.
He was the son of teenage model, Marie-Clementine Valade, who painted under the name of Suzanne Valadon, and perhaps an amateur painter name Boissy. Unsure of the father, Valadon reportedly took him around among some of her male acquaintances including Renoir, all whom denied parentage, and so she named him after Miguel Utrillo, who was sympathetic but likely not the father. Among the artists for whom Valadon posed were Berthe Morisot, Toulouse Lautrec, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
By the age of 21, Utrillo was having the mental problems that would reoccur throughout his life. To divert him, his mother encouraged him to paint, so he made pictures of what he saw around him in his neighborhood of Montmartre. His landscapes were unique, some said bizarre, and people bought them. They became popular and influential in that they encouraged other artists to depict their own environs realistically instead of following the prevailing trends towards abstraction. Many of his Parisian scenes, painted 'en-plein air', have appeared on postcards.
In the 1920s, when he was in his 40s, he had an international reputation, and in 1929, he received the Legion of Honor from the French government. In 1935, when he was 52, he married a woman named Lucie Valore, and the couple settled in Le Vesinet, near Paris. He lived into his seventies, although he had many bouts with alcoholism. He died November 5, 1955 and is buried in Montmartre in the Cimetere Saint-Vincent.