It was originally called "Cabaret des Assassins"; legend has it that it got this name after a band of assassins broke in and killed the owner's son. The cabaret was more than 20 years old when, in 1875, the artist Andre Gill painted the sign that was to suggest its permanent name. It was a picture of a rabbit jumping into a pot, and locals began calling their neighborhood night-club "Le Lapin à Gill": "Gill's rabbit". Over time it evolved into "Lapin Agile", or Nimble Rabbit. At the turn of the century, the Lapin was a favorite spot for struggling artists and writers, including Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire and Utrillo.
Since the Lapin Agile is located at the heart of the Montmartre part of Paris (the heart of artistic Paris at the turn of the 20th century), there was much discussion at the cabaret about "the meaning of art".
The Lapin Agile was also popular with shady Montmartre characters including pimps, eccentrics, simple down-and-outers, students from the Latin Quarter, a contingent of local anarchists, and a sprinkling of well-heeled bourgeois out on a lark. Pablo Picasso's 1905 oil painting "At the Lapin Agile" helped to make this cabaret world famous. The cabaret was often captured on canvas by another artist, Maurice Utrillo.
In 1993 comedian and entertainer Steve Martin wrote a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which had a successful run in Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. The play depicted an imagined meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein at the Lapin Agile.
Today, many people still visit the Lapin Agile, sitting at wooden tables where decades' worth of initials have been carved into the surfaces. Located in a stone building on the steep and cobbled Rue des Saules, the cabaret presents visitors with French songs dating back as far as the 15th century.
Below is Utrillo's 1936 painting titled: Montmartre street corner / Lapin Agile: