French painter and printmaker. Born in Bessines, Haute-Vienne, Valadon came to Paris as a baby with her seamstress mother. Early on she learned dressmaking, worked as a circus acrobat, and had a son, MAURICE UTRILLO. Her first contact with art came through modelling for RENOIR and TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. Without formal art training, she began to draw and when Toulouse-Lautrec showed these drawings to DEGAS, he was sufficiently impressed to arrange a professional exhibition. The many shows and sales which followed brought Valadon financial security, especially after 1924 when the dealer Bernheim-Jeune showed her work regularly. Between 1927 and 1932 she had four major retrospectives and took part in the Salons of Modern Women Artists 1933–8. As an ‘independent’, untouched by avant-garde MODERNISM, her conventional landscapes, still lifes, and flower paintings nevertheless included symbolic, personal references, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Similarly, though she frequently painted the figure, she avoided conventional voyeurism: for example, her painting The Blue Room (1923; Paris, Mus. National d’Art Moderne) shows a self-possessed figure in a vibrant setting.
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