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Maurice Utrillo
Maurice Utrillo  
I seen this painting at an antique shop. when I touch the painting it seems to be a painting not a print. How can I tell if it is real?

Hi Terri,

This is a tricky question to answer.

The scene is the Cabaret de la belle Gabrielle, rue Saint Vincent, Montmartre, Paris. And was a favourite subject of Utrillo. However, I don't recognise this particular work.

As it is not a well known work of Utrillo's the chances are that it's probably a painting. You'd have to look closely at the materials to determine this - if the paint has texture, is on canvas, and is not a varnished or over painted print then it is most likely a painting. Regrettably these observations are very difficult to expain, and are mostly learnt by looking at prints and then looking at paintings and learning the differences between the two.

But even if we establish this to be a painting, can it then be a work by Utrillo? The odds on this are probably a zillion to one. Utrillo is one of the most faked artists around, and in order to establish it as a work by a master one would have to research the provenance of the painting. As it's in an antiques shop we can assume it has no provenance - the store owner will probably tell you he bought it at an estate sale, or it came from the house clearance of an old lady, or something similar. If a painting by a major French impressionist/post-impressionist is genuine there will be proof - their paintings were sold through established art dealers and in exhibitions - and the likely hood that someone from the USA was in Paris, bought a painting, forgot who the artist was, or died and then no one else knew who the artist was despite it being emblazoned lower left is in the realms of fantasy.

If you were to buy the picture, I'd advise you to only do so if liked it and were happy to have a copy or a work in the manner of Utrillo.

Best wishes,

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Timothy Lawrence Williams MA (Hons)


I can answer all questions on Fine Art, particularly the indentification of pictures (paintings, prints etc). My specialist areas are old master prints, printmaking, early Flemish painting, Dutch golden age painting, fin-de-siecle, Impressionism, Victorian, all British painting.


I've worked for the National Gallery, London and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery in research and curatorial capacities. I'm currently a director of Pieta Fine Art Ltd.

The Guardian

PhD Early Flemish painting (incomplete), MA History of Art, BA History of Art (Hons)

Awards and Honors
Neil MacGregor Scholarship

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