Max Jacob (painter-poet)

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Max Jacob in 1934
Photograph by Carl van Vechten , from the Van Vechten Collection of the Library of Congress

Max Jacob (also: Jakob ; * July 12, 1876 in Quimper ; † March 5, 1944 in the Drancy assembly camp ) was a French poet , painter and writer .


Jacob spent his youth in the western French town of Quimper. In Jacob's fictional autobiography, the section of his novel Saint Matorel planned as a foreword , he describes himself as “born on the border of Brittany” and “five years as a sailor” to sea.

Amedeo Modigliani : Portrait of Max Jacob, oil on canvas, 1916
Max Jacobs grave site

Jacob then settled in Paris and in 1897 decided to pursue an artistic career. He often visited Montmartre and lived in the Montparnasse district , where he shared a room with Pablo Picasso on Boulevard Voltaire . Through Picasso he met Guillaume Apollinaire , through him he made contacts with Jean Cocteau , Christopher Wood and Amedeo Modigliani , who also portrayed him several times. Jacob was also friends with the later politician and resistance fighter Jean Moulin , who was then known under the pseudonym Romanin .

In 1915 Max Jacob converted from Judaism to Catholicism . According to his own statement, a vision moved him to do this:

“It was God who came… What a beauty! Elegance and gentleness! His shoulders, his walk! He wears a coat made of yellow silk with blue cuffs. He turns around and I see this peaceful and radiant face ... "

Max Jacobs's artistic work represents an important link between the Symbolists and Surrealists , which is clearly shown, for example, in his prose poems Le cornet à dés (1917) and in his paintings in New York City in 1930 and 1938 .

After Jacob had led a withdrawn life in the Benedictine monastery in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire from 1921 to 1928, made a few trips and stayed briefly in Paris, he returned there in 1936.

On February 24, 1944, after attending morning mass, Max Jacob was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Orléans prison. His brother, sister and her husband had previously been deported to Auschwitz and murdered there. Max Jacob was later taken to the Drancy assembly camp, where he died of pneumonia on March 5, 1944 . Initially buried in Ivry-sur-Seine , his body was transferred to the cemetery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire after the Second World War in 1949 at the instigation of his friends Jean Cassou , Pablo Picasso and René Iché .


Apollinaire et sa muse , 1910, Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans
Le calvaire de Guengat , 1930, Musée des beaux-arts de Quimper
  • 1910: Apollinaire et sa muse.
  • 1911: La Côte.
  • 1912: Œuvres burlesques et mystiques de Frère Matorel.
  • 1914: Le Siège de Jérusalem 'grande tentation céleste de Frère Matorel.
  • 1917: Le Cornet à dés.
  • 1918: Le phanérogame.
  • 1919: La Défense de Tartufe.
  • 1920: Cinématoma.
  • 1921: Le laboratoire central.
  • 1921: Le Roi de Béotie.
  • 1922: Le Cabinet noir.
  • 1922: Art Poétique.
  • 1923: Filibuth ou la Montre en or.
  • 1923: Le Terrain Bouchaballe.
  • 1924: Visions infernales.
  • 1924: L'Homme de chair et l'Homme reflet.
  • 1925: Les Pénitents en maillots roses.
  • 1927: Le fond de l'eau.
  • 1929: Le tableau de la Bourgeoisie.
  • 1931: Rivage.
  • 1932: Bourgeois de France et d'ailleurs.
  • 1938: Ballades.


  • Saint-Matorel. Galerie Kahnweiler , Paris 1911.
    • German edition: Saint-Matorel. Novel. With four etchings by Pablo Picasso. Translated from the French and with an afterword by Una Pfau. Osburg, Hamburg 2020, ISBN 978-3-95510-214-2 .
  • The dice cup. Translated from French and with a comment by Friedhelm Kemp . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1968.
  • Conseils à un jeune poète. Editions Gallimard, Paris 1945.
    • First German edition: Advice for a young poet. Translated from the French by Friedhelm Kemp. With 27 offsets by Horst Antes based on the alphabet of characters of the mute. Kösel, Munich 1969.
    • Second German edition: Advice for a young poet. Translated from French and with a comment by Friedhelm Kemp. Alexander, Berlin 1985, ISBN 3-923854-16-1 .



  • Monsieur Max. TV feature film, France 2006; Director: Gabriel Aghion; u. a. with Jean-Claude Brialy

Web links

Commons : Max Jacob  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Picasso: The Ludwig Collection; Drawings, paintings, plastic works ; ed. by Evelyn Weiss in conjunction with Maria Teresa Ocaña, Prestel, Munich 1992, ISBN 3 7913 1235 9 , plate 13
  2. Willi Winkler : Applied Augustinism. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, No. 117, May 22, 2020, p. 11.
  3. a b Review by Marianne Kesting : Max Jacob, the mystical clown. In: Die Zeit, No. 36, August 28, 1970, p. 16.