Marie-Clémentine “Suzanne” Valadon, was a French model and post-impressionist painter. Born in 1865 she was raised in poverty by her single mother. She had several jobs from millner work to a circus acrobat. At the age of fifteen she began her career as a painter’s model and posed for many Impressionists, most notably Renoir, Lautrec, and Morisot.
She taught herself how to draw at the age of nine. Later in life she befriended quite a few artists, like Degas, and most likely learned to draw and paint from them, as she had no formal training. Despite this she was the first woman to be admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Her work had elements of Post-Impressionism and Symbolism. Painting landscapes, still lives, and portraits she is, however, best known for her female nudes. It was unusual at the time for a female artist to paint the female nude. Perhaps it was her years as a model that gave her a different perspective on the women in her paintings. The women portrayed are more natural, more real, than the idealized view of the male painters.
Valadon was well respected and admired in her day. Her works were displayed in both group and solo exhibitions, but it was her life that was most fascinating. Below are a selection of her works.