La Rotonde opened in 1911, situated directly across the Boulevard du Montparnasse from Le Dôme. During the 1920s, these cafes were at the center of expatriate life in Paris. Montparnasse was filled with cafes where artists could exchange ideas and and linger a table well into the night for a few centimes. Just imagine Picasso asking Modigliani to pass the wine while chatting with Duchamp who was distracted by Matisse sketching at the next table. Jean Cocteau has been quoted as saying, "Poverty is a luxury in Montparnasse".
Victor Libion, the proprietor of La Rotonde, would often accept a drawing or a painting from an artist who could not pay the bill. There were times when the cafe's walls were covered with artwork that would be the envy of Sotheby's today. Libion allegedly would return the artwork when the bill was paid. During the years between the wars, La Rotonde was popular with the artists of the day. Today the place still thrives, but it is patronized by creative types from the movie industry..
Courtesy Henry Voigt Collection
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