Lapin Agile - again

This is not the first time I talk about Lapin Agile (see previous post), but as I recently had the privilege to listen to the present owner, the now 80-some-years old Yves Mathieu, during some two or three hours tell us the story about the place, I thought I must make another post. I was invited together with other members of “Le Vieux Montmartre”.  

This famous Montmartre cabaret was in the mid of the 19th century referred to as the “Cabaret des Assasins”, later “Ma Campagne”. In 1875, the artist André Gill painted a rabbit which jumped out of its saucepan, which later gave the place its new name; playing with words - “le Lapin à Gill” became “Lapin Agile”, the Nimble Rabbit. The painting on the façade is a copy, the original can be found in the Montmartre Museum (see previous posts, e.g. here and here).

So we were sitting in the old little cabaret, which is still open every night (except Mondays) from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. (see their site), listening the a number of fascinating stories, sitting on wooden benches, surrounded by tens of paintings and drawings (and a Christ) made by different artists who have been more or less regular visitors over the years.

One of the paintings on the wall is a copy of Picasso’s “At the Lapin Agile”. The original was hanging here between 1905 and 1912, when it was sold for 20 $. The original is today at the MMA in New York. It represents Picasso himself, a model (Germaine Pichot) and in the background the cabaret  “manager”, Frederic Gerard, “Frédé”, playing the guitar. Already in 1904, Picasso had made the portrait of Frédé’s stepdaughter Margot, today known as “Woman with a Crow” (Toledo Museum of Art).

During Frédé’s time, the place was owned by Aristide Bruant, famous then and still today, especially thanks to different posters made by Toulouse-Lautrec. Bruant sold it to the son of Frédé, Paulo, of which the present owner, Yves Mathieu, our host, is the stepson.  

Lapin Agile was (and still is) a meeting place for a number of artists. The bearded Frédé played the cello or the guitar and everybody – Picasso, Modigliani, Utrillo, Braque, Apolinaire, Max Jacob… participated by singing, reading poems… 

Frédé, Père Frédé, had a donkey, known as Lolo, which also became famous in 1910 when its tail was used as a brush for a painting presented at the Salon des Independants under the name “Et le soleil se coucha sur  l’Adriatique”, where it got very good reviews.

I will not make a list of all later famous artists who have performed, even started their careers, here -  a lot of French ones (Nougaro, Brassens…), but also some classical music ones like Sviatoslav Richter, who later returned regularly ….

… like the couple Alexandre Lagoya / Ida Presti who, young, even lived here  .

The guestbook is impressive. Here are just some examples: Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Leontyne Price, Foujita, Fernand Léger, Vlaminck, Eleanor Roosevelt, Edward G. Robinson...


Anonymous said...

Was Picasso an Impressionist as a young man?
He sure looks handsome in that painting!
This is a fascinating post, Peter.
Thank you.

Amanda said...

I have never been inside. I now know better! Thank you Peter; I always learn something new with in all your posts.

Alain said...

La présence de ce grand Christ en croix est vraiment étonnante.

Cezar and Léia said...

You prepared a great article and your pictures are beautiful!I also enjoy the videos, thanks for sharing!

Thérèse said...

A very impressive place indeed!

Jeanie said...

Oh, my -- when we passed by there last year on our Montmartre tour, you told us some of the history -- but there is so much more to be heard! I always loved this building -- a fondness for pink, perhaps? Or rabbits? Or perhaps just knowing so many people who contributed to our culture were part of this storied place. Thanks, Peter!

Starman said...

We were going to the Lapin one day (must have been a Monday) but it was closed so we ended up at a very nice resto just across the street (at least very close) the name of which I don't remember, but it had a great view of the city from the terrace.

French Girl in Seattle said...

Great post Peter. I never set a foot inside le Lapin Agile, unlike you. I will one day, and now I know all the details about the place. This is a very magical part of Montmartre, with the vineyard nearby, a bit away from the commotion around le Sacré Coeur... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

claude said...

Ce post me plait beaucoup, Peter !
d'autant que j'ai tout lu en anglais et tout compris. On voit que j'ai bien dormi.
C'est un endroit mythique de Paris, tant par son extérieur que par l'intérieur, et fréquenté par du beau monde.
Merci pour les vidéos.

JudyMac said...

Definitely on my to-do list!

martinealison said...

Votre billet me rappelle de merveilleux souvenirs... merci !
Un lieu mythique et magique... Lorsqu'on franchit cet établissement, on laisse dehors ses soucis et le rêve commence...
Très joli reportage.
Gros bisous.

Promis je ne peindrai pas ma prochaine toile avec la queue de mon paon, ni celle de mon chat!