Picasso’s First Studio in Paris 1900

Picasso joins the Montmartre artistic milieu in 1900

Map of Montmartre for the self-guided walk which guides you to artists’ studios, paintings and canteens. The walk is around the upper Montmartre area including the hill of Montmartre.

Walk 1, map of upper Montmartre; route and points of interest of the Montmartre walking tour Montmartre Artists’ Studios © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).

Continue up the hill from point 2 the Bateau Lavoir following the winding and steep 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 point 3 Picasso’s first studio in Paris, 49 Rue Gabrielle.

Picasso is more closely associated with the Bateau Lavoir studios just down the road, but this is where he stayed and worked when he first came to Paris with his friend and fellow artist Casagemas for the Paris World Fair in 1900.

An OpenStreetMap detail of the signed route map from Rue Ravignan to Place Emile Goudeau to Rue Gabrielle in Montmartre. The map shows three points of interest; point 1 Pere Azon/Relais de la Butte, point 2 the Bateau Lavoir artists studios and point 3 Picasso’s first studio in Paris in 1900.
Detail of map showing the proximity of point 1 Pere Azon/Relais de la Butte, point 2 the Bateau Lavoir and point 3 Picasso’s first studio Rue Gabrielle. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL).

Picasso visits Paris for the World Fair of 1900

Picasso was one of 50 million visitors for the event which also featured the opening of the first Paris métro line, some enormous Art Nouveau and Baroque style temporary national pavilions and a fantastic palace of electricity which powered a moving pavement.

This was an impressive event to usher in the 20th century. The palace of electricity’s 10 000 lights looked as though they were illuminating a new age full of technological possibility. A new medium for artistic expression, the cinema, was developing. Surely painting too would rise to the challenge and reinterpret the modern world.

The shock of Casagemas’ suicide

Casagemas committed suicide in 1901 after the woman he was in love with rejected him. The loss of his friend was the cause of much turmoil for Picasso. He continued to paint but could not settle, from 1900 to 1904 he split his time between Paris and Spain. These were the Blue Period years—where Picasso composed scenes of hunger and hardship executed in emotionally muted blue.

Berthe Weill and the first modern art gallery in Paris

Picasso painted his version of the Moulin de la Galette in point 3. Thanks to a contact in the Spanish community in Paris, he  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

Tourists pause to look up and take a picture of Picasso’s first residential studio in Montmartre. The four storey building is about 200 meters from the more famous Bateau Lavoir studios. It is situated 49 Rue Gabrielle Paris 75018.
49 Rue Gabrielle, Picasso’s first studio in Paris 1900.

Another interesting work from this very early period is his Absinthe Drinker. It was painted in 1901 and can be viewed in the Orsay Museum Paris but was executed at Casagemas’ residence and workshop outwith our circuit: 130 ter. Boulevard de Clichy. 

Studies of women drinking absinthe is a recurrent theme among Montmartre artists, the greatest of them all is Degas’ In a Café also 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. It was highly alcoholic, and believed to be hallucinogenic. Absinthe, a.k.a the green fairy because of its colour, became associated with Montmartre and its artists. Toulouse-Lautrec was said to have had a glass flask full of the drink 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 recently died in 1901.

An OpenStreetMap detail of the signed route map from point 3 Rue Gabrielle to point 4 the Moulin de la Galette turning right from Rue Ravignan into Rue d’Orchampt and following this street to the Moulin de la Galette.
The route leading from point 3 Picasso’s first studio to point 4 the Moulin de la Galette. © OpenStreetMap contributors, the Open Database Licence (ODbL)

Dalida’s house

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.  

A sunny view of the French pop singer Dalida’s house situated in Rue d’Orchampt Paris 75018
Dalida’s house Rue d’Orchampt Montmartre.

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.

A view of the Radet windmill in Montmartre from Rue Lepic Paris 75018. The Radet windmill forms the entrance to the Moulin de la Galette restaurant.
A view of the Radet windmill over the entrance to the Moulin de la Galette restaurant.