Short description

This wooden building, probably named as such out of derision, opened on the first floor onto the square and led three floors down to rue Garreau. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a poorly heated refuge that served as improvised workshops for a "band of oddballs" who occupied it, often of foreign origin and penniless. It was obviously the crucible of Modern Art.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon de Pablo Picasso

After the Impressionists who had settled there a few years earlier, its occupants were to challenge the standards of classical painting. Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Mac Orlan, Modigliani, Van Dongen, Juan Gris... When he arrived at the Bateau Lavoir, Pablo Picasso revolutionized painting with his famous cubist picture, painted in 1907: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.

Classified by André Malraux in 1969, the Bateau-Lavoir was destroyed by fire in 1970. Rebuilt in concrete in 1978, it was reorganized into 25 studios for young artists who work and create during the day, without being housed there.

Open hours

The Bateau-Lavoir cannot be visited


13 de la place Émile-Goudeau
75018 Paris

  • Subway: The place Émile-Goudeau is accessible by the metro line 12 at the Abbesses station
  • Bus: The RATP bus line 40 is the only one to circulate on the Montmartre hill. Stop Durantin-Burq or Abbesses also

13 de la place Émile-Goudeau
75018 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 53′ 10″ N 2° 20′ 15″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.88605 2.33769
Full description

The Bateau-Lavoir (boat-washhouse) is an artists' housing estate established on the Montmartre hill in the Clignancourt district, which is part of the 18th arrondissement of Paris (France). Its entrance is at 13 place Émile-Goudeau (rue Ravignan).
Since 1904 it has been a place of residence, meeting and creation for many French and foreign painters and sculptors, but also for literary people, theater people and art dealers. Today, the boat-Lavoir still has 25 studios at the disposal of artists.

After the fire in 1970 of the Bateau-Lavoir

The buildings of the artists' city, which were made of wood, were completely rebuilt identically in 1978, but this time in concrete. It still has on its rear facade, visible from the garden Louise-Weber-La-Goulue located on rue Burq, twenty-five glazed artists' studios that help maintain the reputation of the place.

The beginning of the history of the "boat-washhouse" (Bateau-Lavoir)

At number 13 Place Émile-Goudeau (formerly Place Ravignan), the guinguette du Poirier-sans-Pareil was closed around 1830 following a land subsidence and a house replaced it around 1860 (piano factory). It is a brick and wood building. It stretches along a steep street of the Butte Montmartre. The front facade Place Émile-Goudeau is located on the second floor of the rear facade which contributes to an original interior distribution.

In 1889, the owner, a certain Maillard, who wanted to obtain some income from it, called on an architect to transform it into artists' studios, the majority of which would face the rear. The house was divided into about twenty small one-room apartments with glass windows and separated by thin wooden boards with holes. These "studios" are distributed on each side of a central corridor reminiscent of the passageways of an ocean liner. It would be this "aspect" that would be at the origin of the name of "Bateau" of the community, while Max Jacob (modernist poet and novelist but also a French painter) would have added to it - by irony - the nickname of "Lavoir". Indeed, the house had only one water point and one toilet for twenty-five tenants (?!). Another version states that he gave it this name when he saw the laundry drying outside when he first came there.

Before taking the nickname of "Bateau-Lavoir", it was called the "Maison du Trappeur".

The artists' life is organized with little means

The rent was insignificant. Around 1900, "for a worker, who earns 5 cents a day, it takes 15 cents for the monthly rent". The living conditions are harsh and the comfort non-existent. Inside, it was freezing in winter and the heat was suffocating in summer. In addition, there was a musty smell due to the dampness of the woodwork, the wooden walls and the smell of paint or turpentine. The poor sanitary conditions make the atmosphere acrid, the corridor is cramped, the whole place is dirty and dusty.

The penniless residents live on very little. There is little or no furniture. Trunks are used as chairs, a mattress or a straw mattress can be shared in turn. In the basement, a certain Mr Sorieul cultivates asparagus and artichokes, which are sold cheaply but not everyone can afford. The artists use tricks to fight hunger, share chores and support each other.

This destitution leads to the integration of a set of materials or heteroclite objects into the artists' canvases: Max Jacob uses the black smoke of his kerosene lamp, coffee grounds or the dust deposited on his shelves for his watercolors. In May 1912, Picasso made his first collage by grafting a bit of oilcloth onto one of his paintings.

The first artists to settle at the Bateau-Lavoir

The first artist to settle at the Bateau-Lavoir was the painter Maxime Maufra, in 1892. He was just back from a stay in Brittany.
The place quickly became a meeting place, where we notice the presence of Paul Gauguin. Between 1900 and 1904, the place was occupied by two groups of artists, Italians, the most famous of whom was Ardengo Soffici, and Spaniards grouped around Paco Durrio. In 1901, moreover, he was installed in an apartment in the Bateau-Lavoir, which he later gave to Pablo Picasso. The two men worked together for a time in the 1910s, creating jewelry

Fernande Olivier moved into Laurent Debienne's studio in 1901. Pablo Picasso arrived in 1904 (he stayed there until 1909 but kept a studio until 1912). His blue period being over, he began the paintings of the pink period, which ended in 1907. That same year, his painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was unveiled, marking the beginning of Cubism.

At this time, Cité du Bateau-Lavoir's residents from all over the world included the Dutch Otto van Rees and his wife Adya van Rees-Dutilh in 1904 and Kees van Dongen in 1905, the Spaniard Juan Gris (who arrived in 1906), the Romanian Constantin Brâncuși, the Italian Amedeo Modigliani, Pierre Mac Orlan and Max Jacob. In 1908, the Douanier Rousseau was welcomed there with a memorable banquet. The following year, the Mexican Diego Rivera arrived.

Evolution of the neighborhood and the Bateau-Lavoir

In 1909, the neighborhood changed its appearance: cabaret tourism had begun to develop, the local shacks were destroyed, the streets were paved and the price of rent and food increased. In short, the area was becoming urbanized. From the First World War onwards, the Bateau-Lavoir, which was located on the right bank, lost its liveliness to the benefit of its "competitors", Montparnasse and La Ruche (the equivalent of the Montmartre on the left bank).

Nicknamed the "Villa Medici of modern painting" (by analogy with the French Villa Medici in Rome), the original Cité du Bateau-Lavoir was devastated by a fire in 1970. Only the façade remained. It was rebuilt identically in 1978 by the architect Claude Charpentier, but this time in concrete. There are again 25 artists' studios visible from the Louise-Weber-La-Goulue garden (accessible at 14 rue Burq). The part that was not burned down was registered as a historical monument by order of May 31, 1965.

Numerous French and foreign personalities have frequented the Bateau-Lavoir

Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Kees van Dongen, Maurice de Vlaminck, Henri Matisse, Constantin Brâncuși, Georges Braque, André Derain, Maurice Utrillo, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Otto van Rees (en), etc.

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