Born on Poteau street in Montmartre, Utrillo began painting when he was eighteen. He was the illegitimate child of Suzanne Valadou, who posed as a model for Lautrec, and Degas, and later became inter herself. He spent a lonely boyhood neglected by his mother who lived recklessly. He turned to alcohol to escape the loneliness and became an alcoholic in his mid-teens. As part of his therapy, he began painting. Unwillingly as he was when he started painting, painting soon took hold of his heart and mind, and he reached the peak of his productivity after only several years. This was the beginning Utrillo's "Age of White" which featured white like mortar and had a spatial expression which emphasized perspective.
This is a masterpiece from his "Age of White". In the center of the canvas is seen, small in the distance, the dome of Sacré-Coeur Temple, the symbol of Montmartre. The scenery drawn by Utrillo quiet and silent as if the town, usually noisy and crowded with tourists, were a different place. In this scene, with no sign of either sunshine or human beings, the joy of life, which is proudly expressed by painters of the impressionist school, is nonexistent. Instead, what is plastered into the white wall is the painter's loneliness and his deeply hurt soul that can be healed only by the act of painting.
(Source: Selected Works from the Collection of Nagoya City Art Museum, 1998, P. 29.)