From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jules Pascin

Julius Mordecai Pincas (March 31, 1885 – June 5, 1930), known as Pascin (pronounced: [pas.kin];[1][2] erroneously French: [pas.kɛ̃] or [pa.sɛ̃]), Jules Pascin, or the "Prince of Montparnasse", was a Bulgarian (later American) artist known for his paintings and drawings. His most frequent subject was women, depicted in casual poses, usually nude or partly dressed.

Pascin was educated in Vienna and Munich, Germany. He traveled for a time in the United States, spending most of his time in the South. He is best known as a painter in Paris, where he was strongly identified with the Modernist movement and the artistic circles of Montparnasse. Having struggled with depression and alcoholism, he committed suicide at the age of 45.

Early life[edit]

Julius Mordecai Pincas was born in Vidin, Bulgaria, to a Sephardic Jewish family of a grain merchant Marcus Pincas.[3][4] The Pincas family of grain merchants (originally from Ruse) were one of the wealthiest in Vidin; they bought and exported corn, rice, maize and sunflower.[5] His mother, Sofie (Sophie) Pincas, belonged to a Sephardic family Russo, which had moved from Trieste to Zemun, where she and her husband lived prior to moving to Vidin and where their older children were born.[4][6] The family spoke Judaeo-Spanish at home.[7] In 1892, he moved with parents to Bucharest, where his father opened a company "Marcus Pincas & Co". His artistic training was in Vienna and then in Munich, where he relocated in 1903.[8] At the age of 20 in 1905, he began contributing drawings to Simplicissimus, a satirical magazine published in Munich.[9] Because his father objected to the family name being associated with these drawings,[9] the young artist adopted the pseudonym Pascin (an anagram of Pincas).[10]

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. To avoid service in the Bulgarian army, Pascin left for the United States on October 3, 1914, after the beginning of World War I. A few weeks later on October 31, Hermine David sailed for the United States to join Pascin.

United States[edit]

Les petites américaines (Little American Girls), 1916, Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History
Jules Pascin, Hermine in bed

Pascin and David 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.[11] He and David painted in New York City, where she had an exhibit, 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. In September 1920, Pascin became a naturalized United States citizen, but he returned to Paris soon afterward.[8]

Especially after he returned to France, he became the symbol of the Montparnasse artistic community and is more associated with France than the US. Always in his bowler hat, he was a witty presence, along with his good friend Constant Detré,[12] at Le Dôme Café, Le Jockey Club, and the other haunts of the area’s bohemian society. Pascin made visits to Bulgaria in 1923/1924 and at an uncertain later date.


Jules Pascin, Portrait of Lucy Krohg, oil and pencil on canvas

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.

According to his biographer, Georges Charensol,

"Scarcely had he chosen his table at the Dôme or the Sélect than he would be surrounded by five or six friends; at nine o'clock, when we got up to dinner, we would be 20 in all, and later in the evening, when we decided to go up to Montmartre to Charlotte Gardelle's or the Princess Marfa's—where Pascin loved to take the place of the drummer in the jazz band—he had to provide for 10 taxis."[citation needed]

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, one of which may have been Lucy Krohg ("Her hair was cropped short and was sleek and dark as an oriental's.") Hemingway's portrayal of the evening is considered one of the defining images of Montparnasse at the time.[citation needed]

Jules Pascin, Portrait of Mimi Laurent, oil on canvas, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.


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.[13] He slit his wrists and hanged himself in his studio in Montmartre. On the wall he left a message written in blood, to a former lover, Cecile (Lucy) Vidil Krohg.[13] In his last will and testament, Pascin left his estate equally to his wife, Hermine David, and his mistress Lucy Krohg.[14]

On the day of Pascin’s funeral, June 7, 1930, 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, 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.


  1. ^ "[...] Jules Pascin (pronounced Pass-kin, born Pincas, first name unremembered, in Bulgaria of a Spanish-Jewish father and a Serbo-Italian mother)" ("Art: Beauty & the Baker", Time magazine, Monday, July 18, 1932)
  2. ^ "He pronounced his name ‘Pass-keen’, and so did his friends." (John Ulric Nef, "Reminiscences of Jules Pascin" (June 1966), in Tom L. Freudenheim, Pascin (exhibition catalog), University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, 1966)
  3. ^ Biography of Jules Pascin
  4. ^ a b Alfred Werner "Jules Pascin in the New World"
  5. ^ Interview with Mayer Alhalel (Vidin)
  6. ^ Sephardic marriages in Vienna: February 1901 — Abraham Alfred Yerocham of Plovdiv (son of Menachem and Sol Yerocham) and Rebecca Pincas of Zemun (daughter of Marcus and Sofie Pincas).
  7. ^ Ilya Ehrenburg about Jules Pascin (People, Years, Life: memoires)
  8. ^ a b Alley and Barlow, Oxford Art Online
  9. ^ a b Dupouy 2014, p. 5
  10. ^ According to Alfred Werner, "he never added his first name, even in its French form. His suicide note is signed 'Jules Pincas dit Pascin.' ", Werner, 1972, p. vii
  11. ^ "Art in Georgia from 1895 to 1960", New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 8 Jul 2010
  12. ^ Official site of Painter Constant Detré
  13. ^ a b Diehl 1968, p. 78
  14. ^ This will was contested by Pascin's estranged family through Pascin's brother, Joseph Pincas. The three parties ultimately agreed to share the estate.[citation needed]


  • Alley, Ronald and Margaret Barlow. "Pascin, Jules." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.
  • Charensol, Georges and Jules Pascin (1928). Jules Pascin. Collection "Les Artistes Juifs". Paris: Éditions "Le Triangle".
  • Diehl, Gaston (1968). Pascin. New York: Crown. OCLC 74469
  • Dupouy, Alexandre (2014). Pascin. Parkstone Press. ISBN 978-1-78310-533-5
  • Werner, Alfred (1972). Pascin: 110 Drawings. New York: Dover. ISBN 0-486-20299-2
  • [1] Encyclopædia Britannica

External links[edit]