Utrillo here represents the facade of the Sainte-Croix Cathedral in Orléans, built mainly in the 13th century. We do not know if the artist went to the town itself or if he took his inspiration from a postcard. This view is more abstract than Utrillo’s facade of Notre-Dame de Paris in the Musée de l’Orangerie. From 1909, the artist added glue, plaster and cement to his paint to obtain his characteristic white texture. Grey and brown highlights were gradually added to obtain the desired effect.
The painting is unfinished, and reveals some of Utrillo’s artistic techniques: the preparatory layer for the background is still visible; the straight line at the bottom, the base for the motif, is also visible; the facade sits there like a model on a stand; the shapes are drawn out using a ruler and compass.
Utrillo’s signature had been painted on then cleaned off and replaced with a signature in ink. According to some, the dealer Libaude reproached Utrillo for having too large a signature and Suzanne Valadon, the artist’s mother and an artist herself, scratched off his signature and substituted it with another.
Provenance: L. Libaude; Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter