Count Étienne de Beaumont was one of the great aristocratic patrons of modern painting and music in Paris during les années folles (the period between the two World Wars). An enthusiast for the avant-garde—among other things, he supported Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes and staged some of the first jazz performances in France—de Beaumont is best remembered for the lavish parties and extravagant costume balls he hosted at his residence on rue Masseran.
De Beaumont’s fêtes reached an apex in 1924 with the ballet series Soirées de Paris, which took place at the Théâtre de la Cigale in Montmartre from May 17 to June 30, 1924. An homage to the review of the same name by Guillaume Apollinaire, the series included the scandalous ballet Mercure, which featured music composed by Erik Satie, sets and costumes designed by Pablo Picasso, and choreography devised by Léonide Massine. A few years earlier, in 1916, the count had been introduced to Picasso by Jean Cocteau when the artist attended de Beaumont’s first ball, the Soirée Babel. De Beaumont remained close to Picasso and his wife Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina of similar aristocratic birth, until World War II During the 1920s, the count’s personal collection included approximately fifteen paintings by Georges Braque, Max Ernst, Marie Laurencin, and Picasso, some of which he acquired from the dealer Paul Rosenberg.
De Beaumont was also affiliated with the fashion houses of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, and he financed several avant-garde ballets, including Cocteau’s Le Boeuf sur le toit (1920), as well as films by Henri Chomette and Man Ray.
For more information, see
Gee, Malcolm. Dealers, Critics, and Collectors of Modern Painting: Aspects of the Parisian Art Market between 1910 and 1930
. New York: Garland Publishing, 1981.
Richardson, John, and Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917–1932. Vol. 3, 1917–1932. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.
———. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence, and Douglas Cooper. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
———. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 2, 1907–1917. New York: Random House, 1996.
For further information on biographical material as well as the Count’s professional papers and correspondence, in particular with Massine and Cocteau, see: Étienne de Beaumont, L’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC), Abbaye d’Ardenne, Saint-Germain la Blanche-Herbe, France.