In the spring of 1912 Utrillo was admitted to an institution in Sannois, on the outskirts of Paris, for a cure against alcoholism. He remained there until late summer, returning for extended periods through 1914. During his stay at the sanatorium he was allowed to paint outside the walls of the property and thus executed many paintings of the sites in the village. He was particularly fascinated by an old windmill. In earlier years, he had painted many views of another windmill, that one in Montmartre, which had become the dance hall Moulin de la Galette.
The present picture is one of the first of many versions of the windmill in Sannois that the artist painted frequently throughout his life. The composition is dominated by the almost centrally positioned windmill that commands the landscape and the village buildings around it, and creates a structural axis of the picture. In subsequent views of the windmill Utrillo often used a similar compositional arrangement or created many variations of it.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Maurice Utrillo.V.
[Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert, Paris, in 1926]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1936–d. 1967; her bequest to MMA)
New York. Perls Galleries. "Masterpieces from the Collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot," April 14–May 3, 1958, no. 25 (as "Le Moulin à Montmartre").
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts. "Masterpieces from the Adelaide Milton de Groot Collection," December 2, 1958–March 1, 1959, no. 43 (as "Moulin Montmartre").
Paris. Galerie Charpentier. "Cent tableaux par Utrillo," March–May 1959, no. 35 (as "Moulin de Sannois," 1911, lent by a private collection).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 30; as "The Old Windmill at Sannois," 1911).
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 26.
Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 26.
[Adolphe] Tabarant. Utrillo. Paris, 1926, ill. p. 104, as "Le Vieux Moulin de Sannois"; credits the photograph to the Barbazanges-Hodebert collection.
Paul Pétridès. L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo. Vol. 1, Paris, 1959, pp. 320–21, no. 264, ill., as "Vieux Moulin à Sannois," about 1911, in the collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot.
Jean Fabris and Cédric Paillier. L'oeuvre complet de Maurice Utrillo. Paris, 2009, pp. 631, 697, no. 387, ill. pp. 458 (color), 673, call it "Vieux Moulins à Sannois (Val-d'Oise)".