Picasso joins the Montmartre artistic milieu in 1900
Point 3, 49 Rue Gabrielle Montmartre, Picasso’s first studio
Continue on up the hill following the winding Rue Ravignan for about 100 metres. At the junction bear right, this is Rue Gabrielle. On the corner of Rue Gabrielle where it joins Rue Ravignan is Number 49 Rue Gabrielle. This is the site of Pablo Picasso’s first studio in Paris. Whilst Pablo Picasso is more closely associated with the Bateau Lavoir studios just down the road, this is where he stayed and worked when he first came to Paris with his friend Casagemas for the Paris World Fair in 1900.
Berthe Weill and the first modern art gallery in Paris
He painted his version of the Moulin de la Galette here. Thanks to a contact in the Spanish community in Paris, Picasso was introduced to Berthe Weill who was the first gallery owner to specialise in modern art in Paris.
Berthe Weill was exceptional; she only dealt in modern art and she was a woman gallery owner in what was then very much a male dominated milieu. She was also the first to deal in Picasso paintings. Another famous art dealer and gallery owner, Ambroise Vollard, was the first to organise a Picasso show one year later in 1901. It was Berthe Weill who bought and sold Picasso’s Moulin de la Galette.
The subsequent (1901) suicide of Casagemas plunged Picasso into depression. He left 49 Rue Gabrielle and entered his Blue Period (1901- 1904), painted in Spain and Paris.
You may also be interested in his Absinthe Drinker from this period. It was painted in 1901 and can be viewed in the Orsay Museum Paris but was executed at another Picasso residence and workshop: 130 ter. Boulevard de Clichy. Studies of women drinking absinthe is a recurrent theme among Montmartre artists (see Degas’ famous example in the Orsay Museum).
Montmartre and the green fairy
A woman drinking absinthe, in a painting, was understood to be a prostitute or somebody at the bottom of the social scale. Absinthe was highly alcoholic, and was believed to be hallucinogenic. Absinthe (a.k.a, ‘la fée verte’ ‘the green fairy’ because of its colour) has become associated with Montmartre and its artists. Toulouse-Lautrec was said to have had a glass flask full of absinthe inserted in his cane. Both the absinthe drinker painting and the Moulin de la Galette by Picasso owe much in style and subject matter to Toulouse-Lautrec who had died in 1901.
For wheelchair route users please return to point 9 Bateau Lavoir.
Now go back the way you came down Rue Ravignan, downhill this time. Just before the corner of the Bateau Lavoir building turn right into Rue d’Orchampt. Continue to what looks like a dead end, where the street narrows and turns sharply right. On the corner dominating the scene is what has become known as Dalida’s house.
Dalida was a popular singer in France and she made her home here for many years. Her house is the first port of call in Montmartre for her many thousands of dedicated French fans. The plaque on the wall says: ‘Dalida lived in this house from 1962 to 1987. Her Montmartre friends will never forget her.’
Follow what is now no more than an alley to the end of Rue d’Orchampt. On front of you now is a windmill. Following in the footsteps of Picasso we have now arrived at Le Moulin de la Galette which is point 4 of the tour.