Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Sartre Shooting a Gun in Their First Photo Together (1929)

in Philosophy, Photography | March 26th, 2014


In late 2012, an exhibition called Shoot! Existential Photography was held in London. And it traced the history of an unusual attraction that started appearing in European fairgrounds after World War I — the photographic shooting gallery. It worked something like this: A contestant paid a little money, and tried to hit the center of a target with a gun. If he or she hit the target, a camera took a photo, and instead of winning a little toy, the contestant received a snapshot of him or herself shooting the gun. According to the exhibition, this side-show “fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Man Ray and Lee Miller.” You can see a gallery of photos here. But above, we have a picture of de Beauvoir and Sartre at the shooting gallery together. Taken at the Porte d’Orléans fairground in Paris in June, 1929 — the same year the young philosophers met — this photograph is, according to the blog Avec Beauvoir, the couple’s first picture together. Do note that de Beauvoir apparently hit the target with her eyes closed. You can click the image to see it in a larger format.

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Comments (6)

  1. Mrs. Milk says . . .
    March 26, 2014 / 3:24 pm

    Surely it should read “John Paul Sartre with Simone De Beauvoir and a gun.”

  2. Rod says . . .
    March 26, 2014 / 9:36 pm

    @ Mrs.Milk uhh…why? Simone De Beauvoir is as important in her own right, she can lead the title.

  3. Dan Colman says . . .
    March 26, 2014 / 11:43 pm

    Exactly right @Rod. And besides, she’s holding the gun, which makes her the real center of attention here.


  4. ParaLarry says . . .
    May 8, 2014 / 12:17 am

    If she hit the target, her eyes were open when she pulled the trigger.
    The flinch captured by the photograph is typical of a person not accustomed to using a firearm.

  5. Avec Beauvoir says . . .
    May 18, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    She didn’t shoot with her eyes closed. Whant happen is: as she shot, the sound of the gun and the impact made her close her eyes (after the shot). This was the lapse of time necessary to the bullet hit the target. That’s why when the pictures was taken she had her eys closed.

  6. Andrea says . . .
    July 3, 2015 / 10:34 am

    Página en español en honor a Simone de Beauvoir y Jean Paul Sartre:

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