Julius Mordecai Pincas, (March 31, 1885 – June 5, 1930) known as Pascin, Jules Pascin, or the Prince of Montparnasse, was a Bulgarian painter.
He was born in Vidin, Bulgaria to a Spanish-Sephardic Jewish father and a Serbian-Italian mother. His early artistic training was in Vienna and Munich. He adopted the pseudonym Pascin (an anagram of Pincas) early in 1905, at about the same time that he began contributing drawings to Simplicissimus, a satirical magazine published in Munich. In December, 1905 he arrived in Paris, becoming part of the great migration of artistic creativity to that city at the start of the 20th century. In 1907 Pascin met Hermine Lionette Cartan David, also a painter, and they became lovers, living together until Pascin left for America on October 3, 1914. Hermine David stayed in Paris with her mother until, at Pascin's request, she too sailed to America on October 31, 1914. Pascin lived in the United States from 1914 to 1920, sitting out World War I, and while there he taught at the Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia. He and Hermine painted in New York City as well as in Miami, New Orleans and Cuba. Pascin married Hermine David at city hall in New York City. The witnesses were Max Weber and Maurice Sterne, both painters living in New York and friends of Pascin. Pascin was granted American citizenship, but in France he became the symbol of the Montparnasse artistic community. Always in his bowler hat, he was a witty presence at Le Dôme café, Le Jockey club, and the other haunts of the area’s bohemian society. Pascin made visits to Bulgaria in 1923/1924 and at an uncertain later date. Despite the constant partying, Pascin created thousands of watercolors and sketches, plus drawings and caricatures that he sold to various newspapers and magazines.
He studied the art of drawing at the Académie Colarossi and, like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec before him, he drew upon his surroundings and his friends, both male and female, as subjects. He wanted to become a serious painter but in time he became deeply depressed over his inability to achieve critical success with his efforts. During the 1920s, Pascin mostly painted fragile petites filles, prostitutes waiting for clients, or models waiting for the sitting to end. His fleetingly rendered paintings sold readily, but the money he made was quickly spent. Famous as the host of numerous large and raucous parties in his flat, whenever he was invited elsewhere for dinner he arrived with as many bottles of wine as he could carry. He frequently led a large group of friends on summer picnics beside the River Marne, their excursions lasting all afternoon. According to his biographer, Georges Charensol, Scarcely had he chosen his table at the Dôme or the Sélect than he would be surrounded by five or six friends; at nine o'clock, when we got up to dinner, we would be 20 in all, and later in the evening, when we decided to go up to Montmartre to Charlotte Gardelle's or the Princess Marfa's—where Pascin loved to take the place of the drummer in the jazz band—he had to provide for 10 taxis. In his story, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway wrote a chapter titled With Pascin At the Dôme, recounting a night in 1923 when he had stopped off at Le Dôme and met Pascin escorted by two models. Hemingway's depiction of the events of that night are considered one of the defining images of Montparnasse at the time. Behind Pascin’s panache lurked the terror of a tortured mind. Suffering from depression and alcoholism, driven to the wall by his own legend, according to art critic Gaston Diehl, he committed suicide on the eve of a prestigious solo show by slitting his wrists and hanging himself in his studio in Montmartre. On the wall he left a message written in his own blood that said good-bye to his lost love, Cecile (Lucy) Vidil Krohg. In his last will and testament Pascin left his estate equally to his mistress, Lucy Krohg, and to his wife, Hermine David.
On the day of Pascin’s funeral, June 7, 1930, all the galleries in Paris closed. Thousands of acquaintances from the artistic community along with dozens of waiters and bartenders from the restaurants and saloons he had frequented, all dressed in black, walked behind his coffin the three miles from his studio at 36 boulevard de Clichy to the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen. A year later, Pascin, who was buried under his real name of Pincas was moved to the more prestigious Cimetière de Montparnasse.