Émile Savitry, born in 1903 in Saïgon. He attended the Valence Fine Arts School and the School of Decorative Arts in Paris. In 1929, he exhibited a collection of paintings at Zborowski’s Parisian gallery and was presented by Aragon, who also prefaced the catalogue. Savitry wanted to travel the world and was friends with painters and surrealists, such as André Derain, Victor Brauner, Francisco Domnguez, Anton Prinner, Georges Malkine, and Robert Desnos. So he moved with Georges Malkine to the Pacific islands to “smile at the Maohris” and devote himself to photography.
His journey back to France in 1930 ended in Toulon, where he met the Manouche guitarist Django Reinhardt, who played music in cafés with his brother. Savtry introduced them to the world of jazz in Paris. In the 1930s, Savitry took pictures in Le Tabou, La Rose Rouge, and clubs in Pigalle and Cafés Le Dôme and La Coupole, meeting places for artists, writers, and intellectuals from around the world. In his spare time, he served as a special correspondent for the Spanish refugees who fled to Perpignan after the fall of Barcelona. Savitry helped Raymond Grosset restart the Agence Rapho, where he worked since 1933 with Brassai, Ylla, and Ergy Landau.
During his 30 years of collaboration with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Le Jardin des Modes, he photographed many artists and their works, actors, and writers, including Giacometti, Prinner, Brauner, Charlie Chaplin, Edith Piaf, Brigitte Bardot, Colette, and many others.
Here are some historical photos of France in the 1930s and 1940s by Émile Savitry.