from A to Z
You don't need to walk far in Montparnasse to come across the many artists' studios in the area. They usually occupy two levels often with an inside balcony and have vast glazed panels that allow daylight to flood in. An ideal studio should face north so as to avoid changes in light and shadow as they fall on the model and the canvas. However, this is rarely the case. It is unlikely that many of them are still
inhabited by artists; indeed, some may never have been.
Where to find them:
- at the end of courtyards most of which have now been ruled out of bounds unless you have the entry code. Others are in their own little colony such as those of the sculptors César (rue Roger) or David d'Angers (rue de Vaugirard). Some are small self-contained estates like those which can be glimpsed at 3bis rue Jean Ferrandi or those (partially visible) at 242 boulevard Raspail, at 40 rue Boissonade,a
group of roughly one hundred studios at 9 rue Campagne Première, the fifteen studios just visible at 77 avenue Denfert Rochereau, the cité Falguière, "la Ruche" (the most famous of all) at 2 passage de Dantzig and the group of buildings which make up the Zadkine museum at 100bis rue d'Assas; these are usually built with light-weight materials (often salvaged from universal exhibitions) and are sometimes rather a jumble:
- as part of private houses since not all artists starved romantically in freezing garrets (though some did) and many of them achieved fame and fortune in their life-times (some still do) thus enabling them to afford to have their own house built in Paris. Examples are Bouguereau (rue Notre Dame des Champs) or Jean-Paul Laurens, a painter largely forgotten today but who was at the
height of his fame when he commissioned his home on rue Cassini...
- in studio buildings of which there are quite a few in Montparnasse as well a around the Park de Montsouris (14th), and the 15th, 16th and 17th arrondissements (see galleries: façades/other façades):
- on the top floors of buildings with light flooding in from the front and overhead. Some of these studios have a narrow entry on the balcony and have kept the outside winches for hauling up oversized canvasses:
Rue Campagne Première is especially worth visiting: considering that the street has only 33 numbers there are two studio buildings, two 'cités" and one building with penthouse studios. Rue de la Grande Chaumière and the even numbers side of boulevard Raspail between the Vavin intersection (today place Pablo Picasso) and the place Denfert-Rochereau are dotted with studios.
The artists of Montparnasse
Paul Baudry 1828-1886, a leading painter of "official" works and female nudes had his studio 56 rue Notre Dame des Champs, William Bouguereau 1825-1905,
another famous "official" artist who systematically opposed Manet and the Impressionists had a private house-cum-studio built in 1867 at 75 rue Notre Dame des Champs; Carolus-Durand 1837-1917 who received many of France's highest awards lived at 11 rue Jules Chaplain; Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux 1827-1875 the sculptor of the "Four corners of the world" on the Observatoire fountain and of "Dance" on the façade of the Opera Garnier lived at boulevard Saint Jacques and worked in one of the studios at 77 avenue Denfert Rochereau; Eugène Carrière 1849-1906 who had his studio next to that of Antoine Bourdelle 18 impasse du Maine
(today rue Antoine Bourdelle); these studios are part of the Bourdelle museum and are open to the public; Paul Cézanne 1839-1907 at 57 rue Notre Dame des Champs, 5 rue de Chevreuse and 5 rue Brea, then rue de Vaugirard, Camille Claudel 1864-1943 had her studio at 117 rue Notre Dame des Champs, Alexandre Falguière 1831-1900 had his studio at 68 rue d'Assas; Louis Français 1814-1897, painter of the Barbizon school lived at 139 boulevard du Montparnasse; Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 lived at 74 rue Falguière then at 29 rue Boulard;Jean-Léon Gérome 1824-1904 another "official" artist and all-out opponent of Manet and the Impressionists moved into 70bis rue Notre Dame des Champs in 1861; the landscape painter Henri Harpignies 1819-1916 was a regular of "L'Avenue" which still exists at the corner of boulevard du Montparnasse and place de Rennes (today place du 18 juin); the Dutchman Johan Jongkind 1819-1891 lived at 127 boulevard du Montparnasse and had his studio at 5 rue de Chevreuse in 1860, Jean-Paul Laurens 1838-1921 a renowned history painter who participated in decorating the Panthéon in Paris, the Capitole (city hall) in Toulouse and the town hall of Angers as well as painting the ceiling of the Odéon theatre (covered over in 1965 by an André Masson abstract) and the Castres theatre lived at 73 rue Notre Dame des Champs and later had a private house built at 5
rue Cassini in 1903; the British writer Somerset Maugham 1874-1965 lived in Rue Victor Considérant between 1901 and 1904,the American painter James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903 lived in rue Campagne Première in 1858 and had a studio at 86 rue Notre Dame des Champs. And many others...
Among those who lived in the area:
Eugène Atget at 19 rue Campagne Première from 1898 to 1927, Francis Bacon 1909-1992 at hôtel Delambre 35 rue Delambre in 1927, Auguste Bartholdi sculptor of the Statue of Liberty at 38 rue Vavin, Antoine Bourdelle
18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, Constantin Brancusi 9 rue du Montparnasse, André Breton also at hôtel Delambre 35 rue Delambre, Alexandre Calder 60 boulevard du Montparnasse, 22 rue Daguerre and 14 rue de la Grande Chaumière, Marc Chagall 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle from 1910 to 1912, Camille Claudel
117 rue Notre Dame des Champs, Marcel Duchamp 37 rue Froidevaux, Foujita 9 rue Campagne Première and 5 rue Delambre from 1917 to 1926, poet Paul
Fort 24 rue Boissonade from 1904 to1914 (a regular at the Closerie des Lilas), Paul Gauguin 35 rue Delambre in 1891 then 8 rue de la Grande Chaumière from 1893 to 1894 but also 29 rue Boulard, Ernest Hemingway
113 rue Notre Dame des Champs from 1924 to 1926, then 171 boulevard du Montparnasse and 69 rue Froidevaux, Moïse Kisling at "la Ruche" 2 rue de Dantzig, then rue Jean Ferrandi, then 3 rue Joseph Bara from 1913 to 1939, Fernand Léger 86 rue Notre Dame des Champs from 1916 to 1956, Henri Matisse 132 boulevard du Montparnasse from 1927, Henry
Miller 15 rue Delambre then 18 villa Seurat and 60 rue Raymond Losserand, Amadeo Modigliani 8 rue de la Grande Chaumière from 1917 to 1920 and also 216 boulevard Raspail (destroyed and replaced by a studio building), Anaîs Nin 18 villa Seurat, Emile Othon-Friesz had his studio and lived at 73 rue Notre Dame des Champs from 1914 to 1949, Piet
Mondrian 33 avenue du Maine from 1912 to 1913 then 26 rue du Départ from 1913 to 1938, Alphons Mucha
at 13 rue de la Grande Chaumière from 1896 to 1898 but also at 6 rue du Val de Grâce, Amédée Ozenfant 16 rue Boissonade in 1911 then 53 avenue Reille in the studio villa built for him by Le Corbusier, Jules Pascin 3 rue Joseph Bara in 1913-1914,
Pablo Picasso 242 boulevard Raspail in 1912 then 5bis rue Schoelcher from 1913 to 1916, Cole Porter studied music at the Schola Cantorum at 269 rue saint Jacques, Ezra Pound 70bis rue Notre Dame des Champs,
Man Ray 15 rue Delambre then 31 rue Campagne Première in the studio building, Rainer Maria Rilke 9 rue Campagne Première, douanier
Rousseau 44 avenue du Maine from 1893 to 1895 then rue Vercingetorix and from 1901 to his death in 1910 rue Gassendi, John Singer Sargent 81 then 135 boulevard du Montparnasse and 73 rue Notre Dame des Champs, Gino Severini settled in Paris as early as 1906) at 20 rue Ernest Cresson in 1918, composer Germaine Taillefer at 87 rue d'Assas, Ossip Zadkine at 100bis rue d'Assas from 1928 to 1967 where his studio is now a museum (some might, of course, have lived here before or after the dates shown).
and, in no particular order: the black American painter Archibald Motley, Cocteau, Derain, Philippe Soupault, John Dos Passos, James Joyce, Giacometti, Radiguet, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir who, before reigning over Saint Germain des Prés, were habitués of Montparnasse. Furthermore, Simone de Beauvoir was to live from 1955 until her death in 1986 in one of the studios at 11
rue Schoelcher... To these addresses must be added more studios and villas around the Parc de Montsouris which, despite being some distance away, also housed "Montparnos".
It's staggering to think how many world famous artists from Europe, Asia and the Americas - painters, writers, sculptors- made Montparnasse their stamping-ground.
As Cubism waned (it had run out of steam) and Surrealism was brought to a halt (political upheavals, the war and occupation made it irrelevant), the lights of Montparnasse were extinguished one by one and were never really re-ignited. Even if legend has it that Ernest Hemingway returned to Paris with the Free French troops in 1944 "to liberate the Coupole" (if it wasn't the Ritz bar),
it was Saint Germain des Près which became the cultural (more literary than artistic) hub of the French capital. Even so, some "Montparnos" remained loyal to their quarter. Among them were Fernand Léger and Zadkine who were joined
by a younger generation: Cesar who had a studio at 10 rue Roger, Nicolas de Staël who lived at 13bis rue Campagne Première then 83 boulevard du Montaparnasse, Yves Klein also in rue Campagne Première at n°14, Charles Lapicque who lived 4 rue Froidevaux, sculptor Paul Belmondo who lived in rue Victor Considérant and worked in one of the studios at 77 avenue Denfert Rochereau, Bernard Mandeville rue Notre dame des Champs next sculptor Georges Nadal; the American painter Joan Mitchell had a studio rue Frémicourt in 1959 then rue Campagne Première in 1989,the American James Baldwin wrote "Giovanni's Room" at the Select in 1956... "la Ruche" is still occupied by artists, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière is
still with us as well as the shops along boulevard Edgar Quinet selling oil paints and brushes side by side with sculptors' chisels and modelling materials.
The legendary Montparnasse landmarks
The Bal Bullier was located by the Port-Royal station of RER B at 31 avenue de l'Observatoire (re-named here avenue Georges Bernanos); it opened in 1847 and closed down before the second world war; the site is now occupied by the centre universitaire Jean Sarailh and the students' canteen Bullier
The Bal de la Boule Blanche opened at 33 rue Vavin after the 14-18 war;
The Académie de la Grande Chaumière was founded in 1902 at 14 rue de la Grande Chaumière and is still at the same address. Among its alumni were Gauguin, Modigliani, André Lhothe, Alexandre Calder; both Bourdelle and Fernand
Léger taught here; at the corner where the street joins the boulevard du Montparnasse, there used to be (until 1914) an "exchange" for artists' models every Monday;
The Académie Colarossi was named after its founder, an Italian sculptor; it moved into 10 rue de la Grande Chaumière in 1870; women were admitted and allowed to paint from live male nudes! Rodin, whose statue of Balzac stands nearby (Vavin intersection), taught here; pupils include Camille Claudel,
Dunoyer de Ségonzac,
Lyonel Feyninger, Paul Gauguin, Marcel Gromaire, the German painter Georg Grosz, Modigliani (who met Jeanne Hébuterne at the Academie); it closed down in the 1930;
The Académie André Lhote opened in 1922 and was located first in rue d'Odessa then at 26 rue du Départ and the Académie du Montparnasse at 10 rue
de l'Arrivée whilst the Académie du Caméleo, started by the sculptor Levet in1921, was at 241 boulevard Raspail; a now almost illegible plaque at 22 rue Delambre reads "Académie directeur Szabo";
The Académie Ranson was founded in 1908 by the Symbolist painter of that name and used to be 7 rue Joseph Bara; Kissling, Severini, Paul Sérusier, Félix Valotton, Edouard Vuillard taught there; Maria Vieira da Silva studied there in 1929 as did Roger de La Fresnaye. It closed down in 1955; the Académie Vitti was located at 49 boulevard du Montparnasse and the Académie Russe at 54 avenue du Maine; the Académie Matisse was a little further at 33 boulevard des Invalides;
The "Ateliers des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris" are still open at 80 boulevard du Montparnasse as well as the Ateliers de sculpture de la Ville de Paris at
40 rue Boulard;
The American Center opened 261 boulevard Raspail in 1920 and remained there until the move to the Gerhy-designed building (now the Cinémathèque) in 1988. The site was sold, the old building demolished and is now the Fondation Cartier (the new building is by Jean Nouvel) but the cedar planted by Chateaubriand
around 1800 is still there;
The Cantine (canteen) des Artistes: was opened in 1915 by the painter Marie Vassilieff in her studio in the "cité" at 21 avenue du Maine and was frequented in particular by Appolinaire, Braque, Cendrars, Chagall, Max
Jacob, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani, Radiguet, Soutine, Zadkine, etc.2
Chez Rosalie 3 rue Campagne Première was a small restaurant held by Rosalie, a former model for Odilon Redon and Bouguereau;
The Grenier de Montparnasse was a "cité" which was given its name by Jean Cocteau. It was in a block of former stables at 6 rue Huyghens and was the gathering place of the composers who formed the "Groupe des Six": Louis Durey, Georges Auric, Arthur Honneger, Francis Poulenc, Darius
Milhaud and Germaine Taillefer;enue du Mainesi
The Closerie des Lilas is a brasserie with pavement seating (now enclosed) dating back to 1903 and stands at the very end of the boulevard du Montparnasse where a coaching inn was; famous habitués include Paul Fort, Guillaume Appollinaire and Alfred Jarry and inside there are photographs of many writers
and tables with brass nameplates: James Joyce, de Dos Passos and F. Scott Fitzgerald;
The Coupole: this brasserie was open in 1927 at 102 boulevard du Montparnasse; the opening festivities were attended by Jean Cocteau and it was here that Aragon met Elsa Triolet in 1928; it was the favourite café of Picasso, Radiguet, Foujita, Kisling, Giacometti, Zadkine; after the war, Yves Klein
ate there nearly every evening and there are photographs of him doing judo on the roof terrace since the building then had only two storeys (Yves klein was also coaching judo at the American center);
The Dôme, another famous brasserie at 108 boulevard du Montparnasse, dates from 1897 and counted Lénine and Trotzky among its customers; other well-known "dômiers" were: Hemingway whose "A moveable
feast" has a chapter entitled "with Pascin at the Dôme", Man Ray, Henry Miller, Blaise Cendrars, André Breton, Samuel Beckett...
The Rotonde, the fourth of the legendary brasseries at 105 boulevard du Montparnasse, opened its doors in 1911;
The Select, 99 boulevard du Montparnasse, welcomed its first customers in 1923 and was the first of the famous four brasseries to stay open
The Dingo Bar, 10 rue Delambre opened in 1923; it is at the Dingo that Hemingway met F. Scott Fitzgerald in April 1925;
The hôtel Istria 29 rue Campagne Première was home to Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Kisling, Man Ray and Kiki de Montparnasse before they moved into the building next door, Erik Satie, Rilke, Tristan Tzara, Maïakovski, Louis Aragon
and Elsa Triolet...
The Jockey at the corner of the boulevard du Montparnasse and of rue Campagne Première, was the first Night Club in the "quartier"; it opened in 1923 on the premises of a watering-hole called "Le Cocher Fidèle" (the faithful
coachman) and later moved across the boulevard to n°127 in the late twenties; Kiki topped the bill here but she also appeared at the Cabaret des Fleurs rue du Montparnasse; another nightclub named la cigogne was located at 27 rue Bréa; meanwhile, theatres flourished on rue de la Gaîté;
The Sphinx at 31 boulevard Quinet was built in 1930; this was the Left Bank's most notorious upmarket brothel which was the haunt of many celebrities; it was in the same league as two
of the best-known establishments on the Right Bank: the "One Two Two, 122 rue de Provence, and the "Chabanais" on the street of the same name; after being closed down in 1946 when all brothels were made illegal (Marthe Richard Act); the building was sold off and has since been demolished and replaced by a bank;
The Monocle at 60 boulevard Edgar Quinet was a "women only" night-club.
and to round off your tour
for old postcards of Paris and Montparnasse, see also: www.lartnouveau.com and www.paris1900.lartnouveau.com