Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938, French)


Suzanne Valadon Theophile Steinlen

Suzanne Valadon
Theophile Steinlen

Suzanne Valadon was an illegitimate child of a French laundress and lived a rather rough life in her youth. She performed in a circus on the trapeze until she had a bad fall when she was 16. After that, she decided to become an artist’s model, a safer profession. Artists such as Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir used her in some of their works. Renoir even painted her in The Bathers. Valadon began to study the methods and works of the artists she posed for, and started to paint on her own. Encouraged by Toulouse-Lautrec, she continued and even caught the eye of Edward Degas, who was so taken by her work that he purchased several of her first paintings in 1893. A true Bohemian, in 1883 at age 18, she gave birth to an illegitimate son, Maurice Utrillo, who became a well known artist as well. Her unconventional post-impressionist style was controversial during her lifetime and caused her to have a slow rise to notoriety. Even so, she had her first solo exhibition in 1915, which was a success. However, bourgeois society found her works shocking, especially her female nudes, which portrayed feminine strength and independence. Her own personal life was unconventional as well. Entertaining a stream of lovers throughout her life, at 50 she bent the rules even further by taking a lover 21 years younger. Always an independent spirit, she wore a corsage of carrots, kept a goat at her studio to “eat up her bad drawings”, and fed caviar (rather than fish) to her “good Catholic” cats on Fridays. She was also a friend of the cat lover, Théophile Steinlen, who drew a portrait of her.  Like Steinlen she found the cat, especially her cat, Raminou, a great subject for her paintings. Valadon died at age 72 in 1938, and is buried in Cimetière de Saint-Ouen in Paris. André Derain, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque were some of the well known personages of the time who attended her funeral.


Les Deux Chats Suzanne Valadon Oil on Canvas 1918 Private Collection cats in art

Les Deux Chats
Suzanne Valadon
Oil on Canvas
Private Collection




Jeune Fille au Chat Suzanne Valadon Oil on Canvas 1919 Private Collection

Jeune Fille au Chat
Suzanne Valadon
Oil on Canvas
Private Collection




Raminou Suzanne Valadon 1922 cats in art

Suzanne Valadon





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Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats





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  1. well i am going to a class at the library tommrow to do one of her paintings in oil pastel. bouquet and cat.
    i love it already but i plan to make my colors brighter. i have a french friend i just told about it and she is eagerly awaiting to see it on sunday when we video.
    this is really cool i am a cat person all the way.

  2. Great – hadn’t known about Valadon

    • LA Vocelle says

      Great that you learned that Suzanne Valadon loved cats. So many artists and writers seemed to….perhaps a prerequisite for being successful! 🙂

  3. Great site, thanks!
    Another 20th century artist who painted a lot of cats in her work is Mary Fedden, you might consider including her!

    • Yes, thanks! I’m familiar with Mary Fedden…love her cat paintings. This is page in progress, and there are over 200 artists that I plan to put up….I’ll get to her soon!

  4. Just heard ’bout this post and those cats were right. This IS a pawsome blog, for sure!


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