Maurice Utrillo was born in the Montmartre quarter of Paris in 1883. His mother Suzanne Valadon, an eighteen-year-old artist’s model and former circus acrobat, never revealed the identity of Utrillo’s father. However, when the artist was a young boy, Spanish painter and friend of Suzanne Miguel Utrillo signed paternity documents declaring himself the father so as to legitimatize Maurice’s birth. The artist’s mother taught herself to paint as she posed for the likes of Morisot, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec, who introduced her to her future mentor Degas. When Utrillo was twenty-one, he began suffering from mental illness and started painting with his mother’s encouragement. Developing his talent solely on his mother’s basic teaching and his own self-instruction, Utrillo achieved great international acclaim by 1920 and was even awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor by the French Government in 1929. Plagued by alcoholism and bouts of mental illness, Utrillo was interned in mental asylums throughout his life. He found religion in his later years, marrying Lucie Valore when he was fifty-two, and moved with his bride from Montmartre to Le Vésinet just outside of Paris. He lived into his early seventies and was buried in Montmartre.