Pincas, (March 31, 1885 – June 5, 1930) Jules Pascin, or the “Prince of Montparnasse“, was born in Bulgaria to parents of four ethnicities. During World War I, he worked in the United States. 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 andalcoholism, he committed suicide at the age of 45.
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.
Pascin struggled with depression and alcoholism. “Driven 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 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. 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, 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.
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.