The Bateau-Lavoir is one of the most famous artist residences in Paris, like was the factory in New-York. Perched on the Butte Montmartre since 1892, it has seen Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire and Modigliani pass through its workshops.
An artist residency
At the start of the 20th century, Paris was the capital of art and Montmartre became its heart. It is therefore in this very upscale neighborhood that one of the most prestigious artists’ residences is born: the Bateau-Lavoir.
Pablo Picasso beginnings
Painters, men of letters, the theater and art dealers meet there. Originally, it hosted mainly Italian and Spanish artists. Ardengo Soffici and ceramic artist Paco Durio are the first headliners. It is also thanks to the latter that the most prestigious resident of the Bateau-Lavoir settled there … A certain Pablo Picasso! From 1904, the painter installed his brushes there. For 5 years, he works there continuously. It was here that he presented his famous painting Les Demoiselles d´Avignon and began his Cubist period. There, he also meets love in the person of model Fernande Olivier. If Pablo Picasso deeply marked the history of the Bateau-Lavoir, the residence welcomed a good part of all the artistic people of the time Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jean Cocteau…
The end of the bateau lavoir
All have passed in the small, cramped workshops of this extraordinary house. At the Bateau-Lavoir, artists could refocus on their creation. Formerly a ballroom then a piano factory, it has been divided into around twenty small workshops.
Distributed along a corridor reminiscent of a boat passageway, small rooms are linked. Without heating and provided with only one water point, the name of the place was quickly found by the poet Max Jacob. With the emergence of the artistic scene in Montparnasse and particularly in La Ruche, the Bateau-Lavoir is losing its splendor. In 1970, the wooden structure did not withstand a fire and only the facade, classified as a historical monument, survived this accident. Fortunately, eight years later, the architect Claude Charpentier rebuilt the building (in concrete this time) and allows the preservation of this part of the history. Even today, you can discover the sublime window of the Bateau-Lavoir on the square.