Café de la Rotonde

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La Rotonde at night, 2002
Not to be confused with a previous café (1805–1884) at Palais-Royal, or another at the corner of Boulevard Haussmann and Rue Lafayette (fl. c. 1900).

The Café de la Rotonde (French pronunciation: ​[kafe də la ʁɔtɔ̃d]) is a famous café in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France. Located on the Carrefour Vavin, at the corner of Boulevard du Montparnasse and Boulevard Raspail, it was founded by Victor Libion in 1911. Along with Le Dome and La Coupole it was renowned as an intellectual gathering place for notable artists and writers during the interwar period.


Frequented by Pablo Picasso, who had a studio nearby, in 1914, when the English painter Nina Hamnett arrived in Montparnasse, on her first evening the smiling man at the next table at La Rotonde graciously introduced himself as "Modigliani, painter and Jew". They became good friends, Hamnett later recounting how she once borrowed a jersey and corduroy trousers from Amedeo Modigliani, then went to La Rotonde and danced in the street all night.

During this creative era, proprietor Libion allowed starving artists to sit in his café for hours, nursing a ten-centime cup of coffee and looked the other way when they broke the ends from a baguette in the bread basket. If an impoverished painter couldn't pay their bill, Libion would often accept a drawing, holding it until the artist could pay. As such, there were times when the café's walls were littered with a collection of artworks, that today would make the curators of the world's greatest museums drool with envy.[1]

Unlike many establishments in Montparnasse, La Rotonde has retained much of its bohemian charm and continues in operation to this day as a popular spot for the Parisian Intelligentsia.

Life in the cafe was depicted by several of the artists and writers that frequented the cafe, including Diego Rivera, Federico Cantú, Ilya Ehrenburg, and Tsuguharu Foujita, who depicted a fight in the cafe in his etching "A la Rotonde" of 1925. A later 1927 version Le Café de la Rotonde was part of the Tableaux de Paris of 1929.[2]

Picasso portrayed two diners in the cafe in his painting "In the cafe de la Rotonde" in 1901; as did the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovleff aka Alexander Yevgenievich Yakovlev in the similarly titled “In the Cafe de la Rotonde“

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Ehrenburg, Ilya. Liudi, gody, zhizn. Moscow: Text, 2005, pp. 142 ff (in Russian).
  2. ^ La vie et l'oeuvre de Leonard Tusguharu Foujita; Sylvie Buisson, Dominique Buisson, Tsugouharu Foujita; pg. 500, 545, 555, 597 – Published by ACR Edition, 1987 ISBN 2-86770-145-7, 978-2-86770-145-0

Coordinates: 48°50′33″N 2°19′45″E / 48.84250°N 2.32917°E / 48.84250; 2.32917