Edward Quinn, Photographer

The Edward Quinn Archive

Edward Quinn and Picasso

By his wife Gret Quinn (1921-2011)
“Quinn was a very stubborn Irishman who knew what he wanted in life”,
one of his painter friends said. No doubt, this characteristic
helped him a great deal in his work.
Edward Quinn – Ted as I called him – was born in Dublin. He
started out making his living as a musician. In World War II, he joined
the Royal Air Force and became a radio navigator and after the war
he continued in aviation, flying charter planes. We met for the first time
on one of these planes. Ted came to visit me in Monaco, where I lived,
was enchanted by the Côte d’Azur and decided to stay. At that time,
many famous personalities and stars lived along the coast
or came for holidays. Newspapers were interested in these
people, and Ted thought it might be worthwhile to become a
photo-reporter.
He studied all about photography in books and then tried out
in practice what he had learned. He started taking pictures of
landscapes, cats, and dogs, children and pin-ups on the beach.
One of the first celebrities Ted photographed was Picasso.
In 1951 he read in the local newspaper NICE-MATIN that
Picasso would be present at the vernissage of a ceramic exhibition
at Vallauris. The photographs he took during the exhibition did
not satisfy him, so he waited until the end, when most of the people
were gone. This was a fortunate decision, as Picasso’s children
arrived with their nanny, and Ted could take some very nice
pictures of Claude and Paloma with their father.
A few days later Ted brought some prints to Picasso, who liked
them and agreed that Ted could photograph him at work one
day.
But Ted had to be patient, he went up to Vallauris several times,
each time Picasso would say: "D’accord, mais pas pour aujourd’hui"
(Okay, but not today).
Finally the day arrived, it was March 23, 1953. Ted was allowed
to photograph Picasso working on ceramic plates at the Madoura
pottery. At the end of the session, Picasso said to Madame Ramie,
owner of the pottery, "Lui, il ne me derange pas"
(He doesn't disturb me). Picasso certainly knew then that he could
have confidence in Ted, and that Ted would never betray him.
Ted was allowed to visit Picasso very often, mostly when Picasso
took a day off – when he had visitors, on his birthday, on Christmas,
and on other special occasions, for instance when he was back
from hospital after a surgical intervention in Paris in 1966 and
wanted people to know that he was well again.
Each time Ted brought him prints of photographs he had taken
on his previous visit. Picasso usually called Jacqueline and
sometimes also Claude, Paloma, and Catherine, Jacqueline’s
daughter, to come and look at them. Everybody commented,
and one day Picasso said to Ted: "Toi, tu sais faire un portrait"
(You know how to make a portrait). No other compliment could
have pleased him more.

Header photo: Edward Quinn, Zurich 1983. © Eric Bachmann