Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was born on July 5, in 1889 (d.1963). Cocteau was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. Cocteau drew on a negative which Karsh used to create this final image.
Karsh wrote: “Time did not permit me, in 1949, to photograph M. Cocteau in his beautiful country home and he, of course, was busy with a thousand things… this master-of-all-arts and insatiable experimenter with life. We arranged, therefore, to take the pictures in a friend’s apartment, directly about Cocteau’s tiny Paris office.
“As a stage and film director, and in later years a painter, he understood at once what I was trying to do. He looked on with interest as the lighting was prepared and backgrounds chose, but, an old ‘pro’ himself, he did not attempt to direct me and I was pleased to have his confidence. He chatted freely about many things, his thoughts bubbling over, and his face, infinitely expressive, altering momentarily with his mood.”