The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin has recently acquired a work by Maurice Utrillo, “Le Château du Clos de Vougeot”, painted in 1933.
This landscape by Maurice Utrillo represents the Château du Clos de Vougeot in winter. The precise brush-strokes are typical of the artist’s style, and it is unquestionably an exceptional work. Snow-covered vines and posts occupy the foreground, while the vigneronnesin the canvas bear a clear family resemblance to the diminutive ladies of his Montmartre subjects. Despite the wintery scene, the painting radiates light and even a certain warmth.
The riddle of the painting’s history
Evidently, we were delighted to have the chance to acquire a work that was painted in the winter of 1933, the year in which the Confrérie came into being. Now the painting can be added to the collection of theConfrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Château du Clos de Vougeot, eighty years after the Confrérie’s creation.
A child of Montmartre, Maurice Utrillo is best known for his landscapes of Paris and its suburbs. He was fifty when he painted the Château du Clos de Vougeot and his reputation as an artist was by then well-established. He had received the Legion d’honneur; his works were sought after and displayed in famous art-galleries around the world.
The Château du Clos de Vougeot belonged at that time to Etienne Camuzet, deputy for the Côte d’Or and mayor of Vosne-Romanée. It was, however, unoccupied: some use was made of the cellier and vat-house, but the Renaissance rooms remained empty.
Did Utrillo make the journey to Burgundy during the winter of 1933-34? Did he visit the cellars and sample the promising young vintage? Did he stay at the Château or was the painting a commission, executed in a studio in Paris? Camuzet’s descendants cannot recall having heard that either he or anyone else asked Utrillo to paint the Château.
Utrillo often painted from postcards and this sometimes led to mistakes being made. This no doubt explains why a canvas entitled “The Church of Marsannay” sold not long ago at Drouot bears no resemblance to the actual church in that village.
If the painting’s origin and subsequent history remains a mystery, we know that before the sale in Austria it belonged to an Italian family… Now it has come back to Burgundy, and will in future be on display to anyone visiting the Château du Clos de Vougeot – a fitting return to the source of the Vouge, by whose banks it may perhaps have been painted.