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Jules Pascin: The Last Bohemian Prince

Young Girl Sitting 1922 mother of pearl series

By Bea Aaronson

“No other artist, with the exception of Picasso,
has drawn with as much passion and diabolical brilliance.”

—George Waldemar

Also known as the king of three mounts—Montmartre, Montparnasse, and Mount Venus—Julius Mordecai Pincas (also known as Jules Pascin, the Wandering Jew artist), was born in Vidin, Bulgaria, in 1885. His father, a very successful grain merchant, was a Sephardic Jew of Turkish-Spanish descent, and his mother of Serbian-Italian-Jewish descent. Although the eighth of eleven children, Julius Mordecai enjoyed a very comfortable life. The prospect of following his father in his blooming business did not enchant him, to say the least. All he wanted to do was to draw, paint, and live the life! Already at 16 he was an habitué of the brothels, slept there, and felt at home among the prostitutes and the clients, sketching them in their most intimate relationships. The madame protected him and encouraged him to draw, and draw, and always draw more. A little bit like Toulouse Lautrec, to whom he has often been compared.

Jules Pascin: The Last Bohemian Prince
Wed, Mar 18, 4:30 and 6:30pm
La Ostra Roja
A Casa Verde Annex
San Jorge 45
Colonia San Antonio (off Refugio Sur)
130 pesos per person
Reservations: 121 1026 or 152 3730, or

Julius Pincas changed his name to the anagram Pascin so as not to offend his family because of his way of life and, most of all, because of the erotic content of his paintings. He drank too much, he loved too much, he partied too much, but that was the only way he knew. His generosity was boundless; inviting 20 people for dinner in a very expensive restaurant was his joy and pride. Ernest Hemingway immortalized the great painter fornicator in A Moveable Feast, dedicating to him a whole chapter, “With Pascin at the Dôme.”

Flowers, landscapes, street scenes, bar and brothel scenes, people: Pascin drew everything. He created thousands of sketches, caricatures, drawings, watercolors, and paintings. But his predilection was for the feminine figure! Young pubescent girls, like fallen angels, savvy prostitutes, ambassadresses of carnal pleasure, thin and ample, sensuously reclining, resting, and waiting nonchalantly for their customers.

I shall talk to you about his two loves, his wife Hermine David, herself an engraver and painter, whom he married in 1918, and his mistress, Lucy Krogh, model at the Matisse Academy and wife of Per Krogh, the Norwegian painter, nephew of Edward Munch. I shall talk to you about his unique sensuous style. Although associated with what is called L’Ecole de Paris (the School of Paris)—together with Chagall, Zadkine, Modigliani, Kisling, Soutine (all foreigners, all Jews)—Pascin never belonged to any “movement.” The dance of “isms” did not appeal to him. Pascin followed his own creative path, recognizable by the way he enhanced line and color.

His lines do not enclose form, they vibrate! They express the very essence of what he describes. No doubt his early training as cartoonist for the satirical Munich magazine Simplicissimus sharpened his skill at communicating his immediate impression as an observer. And his colors … oh, his colors! Nobody has painted the human flesh like he did. A musical vibrato of caresses … yes! He caressed the canvas. His mother-of-pearl effect is still today unsurpassed. I invite you to listen to Pascin’s magic and tragic tale—he will commit suicide at the age of 45, in 1930, in a most atrocious way.


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