Suzanne Valadon and ‘The Divine Marchesa’ Luisa Casati


Suzanne Valadon 1865–1938 was born into poverty in Montmartre; her son the painter Maurice Utrillo. As an artists’ model for Renoir, Puvis de Chavannes and Toulouse-Lautrec she began to draw, encouraged by Degas who bought her drawings and etchings. After an affair with composer Eric Satie, Suzanne married a respectable stockbroker and settled into suburban life. Later she returned to Montmartre to live with Andre Utter, a painter. Her series of outstanding and very modern paintings found success, exhibited widely and she became a noted figure on the Paris art scene. It is an extraordinary story – from the back streets of Montmartre to the top galleries of Paris.

Marchesa Luisa Casati 1881-1957 was born into a wealthy family, married into the Italian aristocracy, launched a wild life, where she became herself a work of art, dressing outrageously and accompanied by cheetahs, snakes and menagerie of animals, she rented the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and threw extravagant fancy dress parties. Many artists dedicated work to her, including Diaghilev and Picasso, and her portrait was painted by Boldini, Epstein, Kees van Dongen, Augustus John and photographed by Man Ray. After WW1 she moved to Paris, but following financial problems settled in London, where she died penniless in 1957 - but has not been forgotten.


Julian Halsby studied History of Art at Cambridge and was formerly Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at Croydon College of Art. He has produced many publications, and interviews artists for the Artist Magazine and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and The Critics Circle. A practising artist, he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists and elected Keeper in 2010.