As I have previously written, I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. When my parents moved to the ‘burbs’ the neighborhood was then located next to farmland and was somewhat removed from the services and conveniences of the city. Therefore we had a milkman deliver our dairy products, the Fuller Brush man sell us brushes, the tinker man mended our household utensils and a man sell us vacuum cleaners; the list was lengthy. Don’t get me wrong, we did have stores nearby but I guess these ‘vendors’ saw a wealth of opportunity in all the new residents setting up house. Out of all these door-to-door merchants the ones I found most interesting were the artists selling their paintings. My parents had a lot of blank walls in their new suburbia home to fill so they bought 3 pieces of art from an artist who came to our door one day. I remember the artist was a young man who stated he had just returned from Europe where he had been painting the sights. All 3 paintings were done in oil; a water scene, a street scene and one with 3 children (Renaissance-style). These paintings became well-loved features in our home but sadly when our house was robbed in the mid-1980’s the thieves’ stole off with one of the paintings – the renaissance children one. I always found that rather curious – thieves with art knowledge!? Now years later the street scene painting hangs proudly in my home. I have looked at this piece of art for years (and loved it) but it was not until recently that I thought to do some research on it. The artist’s signature in the corner is undecipherable but on the side of one of the buildings is a name that I discovered after some ‘Google-ing’ reads Cabaret du Lapin Agile. French for the Nimble Rabbit Cabaret, the Lapin Agile is a famous Montmartre cabaret located in Paris, France that to this day is still open for business. The Lapin Agile originated in the mid-1800’s and over the years became a favorite spot for struggling artists and writers to frequent including Picasso, Modigliani and Utrillo. Around 1915, Maurice Utrillo painted in oil on board the Le Lapin Agile which recently sold for over $200,000 at Christie’s auction. My painting was painted circa 1960’s and sold to my parents for a fraction of the cost but to me it is priceless.
Image 1: via Modmissy Image 2: via Christie’s