Watercolor and ink on paper
6 ¼ x 14 inches (16 x 35.5 cm)
Framed: 12 x 19 inches (29.5 x 49 cm)
Stamped lower right
Estate of the artist David Bunim
Perls Gallery, NY
Private Collection, USA
This work will be inclued in the forthcoming supplement to the catalogue raisonne in preparation by Abel and Gerard Rambert.
Jules Pascin was born Julius Mordecai Pincas, in Widdin, Bulgaria to a Spanish-Sephardic Jewish father and a Serbian-Italian mother. His early artistic training was in Vienna and Munich. In 1905, at the age of 20, he adopted the pseudonym Pascin (an anagram of Pincas). About the same time, he began contributing drawings to Simplicissimus, a satirical magazine published in Munich.
In December 1905, Pascin moved to Paris, becoming part of the great migration of artists to that city at the start of the 20th century. In 1907, Pascin met Hermine Lionette Cartan David, also a painter, and they became lovers. They lived together until Pascin left for America on October 3, 1914. A few weeks later on October 31, Hermine David sailed for the United States to join Pascin.
Pascin lived in the United States from 1914 to 1920, sitting out World War I. He taught at the Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia, associated with the Telfair Art Museum. He and Hermine painted in New York City as well as in Miami, New Orleans, and Cuba.
Pascin married Hermine David at City Hall in New York City. The witnesses were Max Weber and Maurice Sterne, friends and painters who both lived in New York. Pascin was granted United States citizenship. However, after he returned to France, he became the symbol of the Montparnasse artistic community (gaining him the nickname “the Prince of Montparnasse”), and is more associated with France. Always in his bowler hat, he was a witty presence at Le Dôme Café, Le Jockey Club, and the other haunts of the area’s bohemian society.
Despite his social life, Pascin created thousands of watercolors and sketches, plus drawings and caricatures, which he sold to various newspapers and magazines. He studied the art of drawing at the Académie Colarossi and, like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, he drew upon his surroundings and his friends, both male and female, as subjects. He wanted to become a serious painter, but in time, he became deeply depressed over his inability to achieve critical success with his efforts.
During the 1920s, Pascin mostly painted fragile petites filles, prostitutes waiting for clients, or models waiting for the sitting to end. His fleetingly rendered paintings sold readily, but the money he made was quickly spent. Famous as the host of numerous large parties in his flat, whenever he was invited elsewhere for dinner, he arrived with as many bottles of wine as he could carry. He frequently led a large group of friends on summer picnics beside the River Marne, where their excursions lasted all afternoon.
Ernest Hemingway’s chapter titled “With Pascin At the Dôme,” in A Moveable Feast, recounted a night in 1923 when he had stopped off at Le Dôme and met Pascin escorted by two models. Hemingway’s portrayal of the evening is considered one of the defining images of Montparnasse at the time.
Pascin struggled with depression and alcoholism. “[D]riven to the wall by his own legend,” according to art critic Gaston Diehl, he committed suicide at the age of 45 on the eve of a prestigious solo show. He slit his wrists and hung himself in his studio in Montmartre. On the wall he left a message written in blood, to a former lover, Cecile (Lucy) Vidil Krohg In his last will and testament, Pascin left his estate equally to his wife, Hermine David, and his mistress Lucy Krohg.
On the day of Pascin’s funeral, June 7, 1930, all the galleries in Paris closed. Thousands of acquaintances from the artistic community along with dozens of waiters and bartenders from the restaurants and saloons Pascin had frequented, all dressed in black, and walked behind his coffin the three miles from his studio at 36 boulevard de Clichy to the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen. A year later, Pascin’s family had his remains reinterred at the more prestigious Cimetière de Montparnasse.