Jacqueline Lamba

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Jacqueline Lamba Breton
Photo of Jacqueline Lamba.jpg
Jacqueline Lamba Breton, 1930,
photograph by Man Ray
BornJacqueline Lamba
(1910-11-17)17 November 1910
Saint-Mandé, France
Died20 July 1993(1993-07-20) (aged 82)
Rochecorbon, France.
EducationEcole des Arts Decoratifs
Known forPainting
André Breton (m. 1934–1943)

David Hare (m. 1946–1955)

Jacqueline Lamba Breton (sometimes Jacqueline Lamba or Jacqueline Lamba-Breton; 17 November 1910, Saint-Mandé – 20 July 1993, Rochecorbon) was a French painter, married (1934 – 1943) to André Breton.[2]


Lamba was born in the Paris suburb of St. Mande, on 17 November 1910 (contrary to at least one source she was not American[3]). Her father, José Lamba, died in an automobile accident in 1914, when Lamba was three years old, and her mother, Jane Pinon, died of tuberculosis in 1927.

In 1925, she entered the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from which she graduated in 1929. Here, she met fellow female surrealist Dora Maar. Maar said about this, "I was closely linked with Jacqueline. She asked me, 'where are those famous surrealists?' and I told her about café de la Place Blanche". Lamba then began to frequent the café where she would eventually meet Andre Breton, whom she would later marry in a joint ceremony with Paul Éluard and Nusch Éluard. She met Breton for the second time after one of her performances as a nude underwater dancer at the Coliseum on rue Rochechouart. Breton later wrote about this encounter in his book titled, Mad Love.[4] He would remember Lamba as the "scandalously beautiful" woman he would marry three short months after the night at the cafe de la Place Blanche.[5] She would continue to appear frequently in the poetry of Breton throughout the rest of their relationship.[2] Lamba and Breton were married in a joint ceremony with the poet Paul Eluard and his bride; sculptor Alberto Giacometti served as their best man. They had a daughter, Aube Elléouët Breton [fr] named after the dawn, but separated in 1943. She found herself often overshadowed by her male counterpart. "As Breton's spouse," scholar Salomon Grimberg writes, "she remained nameless, and always referred to as 'her' or as 'the woman who inspired,' or as 'Breton's wife'."[6]

While attending the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs she joined the French Communist party. Following her mother's death, Lamba moved into a "Home for Young Women," run by nuns, on the Rue de l'Abbaye. During this time she supported herself by doing decorative designs for various department stores.[7]

Lamba participated in the Surrealist Movement between 1934-1947.[8] In 1943, Lamba was included in Peggy Guggenheim's show Exhibition by 31 Women at the Art of This Century gallery in New York.[9] Lamba and Breton were wanted by the Nazis; in Marseilles they met Varian Fry. Carrying infant Aube in her arms they were snuck over the Pyrenees to safe passage to America. A letter she wrote to Maar in June 1940 after she and Breton fled [Vichy France] during the Nazi occupation reveals a lot about her life. In it she writes about having to leave her sister, Huguette, back in Paris, she asks about their other friends, Benjamin Péret and Remedios Varo, and says that they are living on a tiny fisherman's shack "of great impoverished beauty" on the beach of Martigues.[4]

Following seven months in mexico, spent with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Lamba and Kahlo becomes friends. Both struggled for their own artistic identities amidst turbulent marriages to famous men. Kahlo captured her friends trepidation in the 1943 painting The Bride Frightened at the Seeing Life Opened - Lamba depicted as a tiny doll among larger, flayed-open fruit echoing the shapes of male and female genitalia.

Following her separation from Breton, Lamba married David Hare, an American sculptor. It is claimed she had a sexual affair with fellow artist Frida Kahlo.[citation needed]

For the last five years of her life, Lamba had Alzheimer's disease.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Marter, Joan M. (2011). The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. p. 95. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Jacqueline Lamba Breton Biography (1910-1993)". leninimports.com. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  3. ^ "Jacqueline Lamba on Arnet".
  4. ^ a b Caws, Mary Ann (2000). Picasso's Weeping Woman : The Life and Art of Dora Maar. Little, Brown, and Co. ISBN 9780821226933.
  5. ^ Hick. "Jacqueline Lamba Showed alongside Magritte and Miró—Then Destroyed Her Own Work".
  6. ^ Hick, Gabrielle (Sep 13, 2017). "Jacqueline Lamba Showed alongside Magritte and Miro-Then Destroyed her own work".
  7. ^ Lamba, Jacqueline; Grimberg, Salomón; Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center (2001-01-01). Jacqueline Lamba: in spite of everything, spring. East Hampton, N.Y.: Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center. ISBN 0965674215.
  8. ^ SALOMON GRIMBERG, M.D. "Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology and the Dallas Museum of Art present "Jacqueline Lamba: A Female Surrealist" -Lecture". Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  9. ^ Butler, Cornelia H.; Schwartz, Alexandra (2010). Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art. p. 45. ISBN 9780870707711.