Jean-Paul Sartre, le Pont des Arts, Paris, France,1945


Gelatin silver print

35.5 x 23.9 cm (14 x 9 7/16 in.)

Captured in front view, deep in thought, frowning and smoking a pipe, Jean-Paul Sartre stands out against the blurry backdrop of the Pont des Arts and the dome of the Institut de France in Paris. On the right side of the composition is the half-truncated silhouette of a man who is unrecognizable but is not there by accident: it is Jean Pouillon, an ethnologist and close friend of the French philosopher and writer.

This iconic image of Sartre is testament to Henri Cartier-Bresson's talent as a portraitist able to capture in a spontaneous manner the personality of his models without any kind of flattery. Cartier-Bresson prefers subtle gestures and, as here, ‘stolen’ moments. As he is already well known at the time, he can choose his models, most of whom are part of the Parisian intelligentsia and artistic avant-garde.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Le Pont des arts, Paris, France, 1945 is presented for the first time as part of the Pinault Collection in the monographic exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson. Le Grand Jeu at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, in 2020.