Day in History 7 April – Henry Ford – Suzanne Valadon

On this day in 1947, industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Fair Lane, his Dearborn estate, at the age of 83.  Born on 30 July 1863 on a farm in Greenfield Township, near Detroit, Michigan.  This boy raised on a farm, with a grammar school education, would rise to become the world’s largest auto manufacturer.  In an era when automobiles were hand-crafted luxury items, he developed the mass-produced Model T, the first car the average person could afford.  In the process he revolutionized industry and greatly changed the way of life in the United States.  Will Rogers wrote: “It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn’t leave us where he found us”.  Ford married Clara Ala Bryant (1888-1947 his death).  They had one son, Edsel Bryant Ford.  The Ford estate, Fair Lane was named after an area in County Cork in Ireland where Ford’s adoptive grandfather, Patrick Ahern, was born. The 1300-acre estate along the River Rouge included a large limestone house, electrical power plant on the dammed river, a boathouse, stables, and extensive landmark gardens designed by Chicago landscape architect Jens Jensen.  The residence and part of the estate grounds are now open to the public as a historical landscape and house museum and preserved as a National Historic Landmark.  Part of the estate grounds are preserved as a university nature study area.  Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation, which he and Edsel chartered in 1936.  The foundation makes grants through its New York headquarters and through twelve international field offices for projects that focused on strengthening democratic values, community and economic development, education, media, arts and culture, and human rights.  The Final Footprint – Ford is interred in Ford Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.  His grave is marked by a full ledger granite marker engraved with his name, birth and death dates and a large cross.  Clara was interred next to him upon her death in 1950.


Suzanne_Valadon_PhotoOn this day in 1938, French painter and artists’ model, Suzanne Valadon died of a stroke at age 72 in Paris.  Born Marie-Clémentine Valadon on 23 September 1865 at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, France.  In 1894, Valadon became the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.  She was also the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo.  The subjects of her drawings and paintings included mostly female nudes, female portraits, still lifes, and landscapes.  She never attended the academy and was never confined within a tradition.  Valadon debuted as a model in 1880 in Montmartre at age 15.  She modeled for over 10 years for many different artists including the following: Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, Théophile Steinlen, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.   The Final Footprint – Valadon is buried in the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen in Paris.  Saint-Ouen is located just north of Montmartre at Saint-Ouen, near Paris, France.  The cemetery consists of two parts.  The first, located on Rue Adrien Lesesne opened in 1860 and the second at 2 Avenue Michelet was opened on 1 September 1872.


Dance at Bougival, by Renoir; the female dancer is Valadon.

Casting of the Net, 1914, by Suzanne Valadon


Portraits of Valadon

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