Born Julius Mordecai Pincas in Vidin, Bulgaria on , he would be known simply as "Pascin", but sometimes "Jules Pascin", after becoming part of the great migration of artistic creativity to Paris, France at the start of the 20th century. Arriving in December of 1905, Pascin, always in his bowler hat, became the symbol of the Montparnasse artistic community, his witty presence felt at Le Dôme café, Le Jockey club, and the others haunts of the area’s bohemian society.
In his story, "A Moveable Feast," Ernest Hemingway wrote a chapter titled: With Pascin At the Dôme recounting how one night in 1923, he had stopped off at Le Dôme and met Pascin escorted by two models. Hemingway's depiction of the event with Pascin and the models is considered as one of the defining images of Montparnasse at the time.
During the 1920s, Pascin mostly painted fragile petites filles, prostitutes waiting for clients, or models waiting for the sitting to end. For these he began earning big money and he spent it all. Famous as the host of numerous large and raucous parties in his flat, whenever he was invited elsewhere for dinner, he arrived with as many bottles of wine as he could carry. In summers, he frequently led a large group of friends on picnics beside the River Marne, their excursions lasting all afternoon. According to his biographer, Georges Charensol, "Scarcely had he chosen his table at the Dôme or the Sélect than he would be surrounded by five or six friends; at nine o'clock, when we got up to dinner, we would be 20 in all, and later in the evening, when we decided to go up to Montmartre to Charlotte Gardelle's or the Princess Marfa's - where Pascin loved to take the place of the drummer in the jazz band - he had to provide for 10 taxis."
During World War I, Pascin lived in America and returned there briefly in 1927, obtaining American citizenship.
Despite the constant partying, during his lifetime he created thousands of watercolors and sketches, plus drawings and caricatures that he sold to various newspapers and magazines. He studied the art of drawing at the Academy Colarossi and like his contemporary, Toulouse-Lautrec, he drew upon his surroundings and his friends, both male and female, as the objects for his works. He wanted to become a serious painter but in time he became deeply depressed over his inability to achieve critical success with his efforts.
Behind Pascin’s panache, lurked the terror of a tortured mind. Suffering from depression and alcoholism, and "Driven to the wall by his own legend," said art critic Gaston Diehl, he committed suicide in his studio. On the wall he left a message written in his own blood that said good-bye to his lost love, Elvire "Lucy" Ventura.
On the day of Pascin’s funeral, all the galleries in Paris closed. Thousands of acquaintances from the artistic community along with dozens of waiters and bartenders from the restaurants and saloons he had frequented, all dressed in black walked behind his coffin the three miles to the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen.