La légende et la vie d'Utrillo

Year: 1927

Author: Francis Carco (1886 - 1958)

Illustrator: Suzanne Valadon

Artist: Maurice Utrillo (1883 - 1955)

Publisher: Éditions Marcel Seheur

La légende et la vie d'Utrillo, cover with a portratit by Suzanne Valadon

Maurice Utrillo, an alcoholic from the age of thirteen, who regularly got into trouble with the police, was frequently hospitalised in psychiatric clinics. Utrillo never enrolled in an art academy, but he learned the skills from his mother Marie-Clémentine Valadon, who was better known by her artist's name Suzanne Valadon.

She started out as a nude model for the painters Renoir, Lautrec and Degas, and later developed her own career as an artist. Maurice meanwhile was entrusted to the care of his grandparents. There has been much speculation about the name of his father, including mention of the likes of Renoir and Boissy. The Spaniard Miquel Utrillo i Morlius was also a candidate: he was the one to acknowledge the eight-year-old Maurice officially as his son, and the one to give him his name.


Had his mother not taken action, Utrillo may never have developed into an artist. It took some time, but from a certain moment onward he could be found every morning at the crack of dawn in the streets of Montmartre, drawing his sketches in the morning light. Because of his bad behaviour, Utrillo did become a legend during his lifetime. For this reason, Carco wrote a biographical sketch about his friend entitled La Légende et la vie d'Utrillo, who was only 43 years old at the time (he would live to be 71). His life also formed the source material for popular heartrending novels such as The Valadon drama and The wine of genius.

Deluxe copy

Novelist Carco, author of this biographical sketch, was a Montmarte expert par excellence. The deluxe copy in the Koopman Collection is one of five copies printed on Japon ancien; the entire edition consists of a mere 105 copies. According to the antiquarian book dealer Henri Matarasso, who sold the book to Louis Koopman in 1936, this copy originally came from the author's own library (in a letter from 4 January 1936). The deluxe edition has a few additional prints of the lithographs on various kinds of deluxe paper: Chinese, Japanese and Dutch. Moreover, prints 'après rayage' of a number of lithographs have been included. That means that the stone has been defaced and that no further unspoilt impressions can be taken. These cancels usually show lines or a cross. The artist's mother, Suzanne Valadon, drew Utrillo's portrait, prints of which have been included in this copy on four different kinds of paper.

Original gouache by Maurice Utrillo

Original gouache

A quire with printing proofs for pages 41 thru 48, corrected by Carco, has been added to this copy. This section features drastic revisions in the text, featuring additions or deletions of large sections. Besides the eleven lithographs of Utrillo, an original gouache has been added which was not reproduced in the book. This painted image also pictures a typical Montmartre street scene with a pink façade, horse and cart, leafless trees, a view featuring chimneys and an iron sky, with the usual signature: 'Maurice, Utrillo, V.'

Bibliographical description

Description: La légende et la vie d'Utrillo / Francis Carco ; ill. par Maurice Utrillo et par Suzanne Valadon. – Paris: Éditions Marcel Seheur, 1927. - 171 p. : ill. ; 34 cm

Printer: Marcel Seheur (Parijs)

Edition: 105 copies

This copy: Number 2 of 5 on Japon ancien

Bookbinder: Ad. Lavaux

Note: With autograph dedication from the author to 'Mon chèr Paul' and to Louis Koopman. – With an original gouache by Utrillo, an unused lithograph by Utrillo, a reproduction, corrected printer’s proofpages 41-48, a signed handwritten poem by Utrillo and a signed letter by the firm of H. Matarasso to Louis Koopman

Bibliography: Édouard-Joseph III-362 ; Mahé I-407 ; Monod 2252 ; Carteret IV-36

Shelfmark: KW Koopm A 8 and KW 77 H 1 [no. 182, fol. 7]


  • Adolphe Basler, Maurice Utrillo. Paris, Crès, 1929
  • Raymond Charmet, Le Paris d'Utrillo. Paris, Bibliothèque des arts, 1963
  • Pierre Courthion, Utrillo. Bern, Scherz, 1947 (Duits)
  • Jean Fabris, Utrillo: Sa vie, son oeuvre. Paris, Birr, 1982
  • André Warnod, Les peintres de Montmartre: Gavarni, Toulouse-Lautrec, Utrillo. Paris, 1928