Henri Cartier-Bresson

Chim, like Robert Capa, was a Parisian from Montparnasse.  He had the
intelligence of a chess player; with the air of a math teacher he applied
his vast curiosity and culture to a great number of subjects.
We had been friends since 1933.  The precision of his critical
spirit had rapidly become indispensable to those around him.  Photography
to him was a pawn that he moved all over the chessboard of his
intelligence.
Another of his pawns, kept in reserve, was his culinary delicacy,
which he handled with gentle authority by always ordering the good wines
and elaborate dishes himself.  He had one item of personal elegance: his
black silk ties.
His perspicacity, his very delicacy often gave him a sad, even
disabused smile, which brightened if one humored him.  He gave and
demanded much human warmth.  He had so many friends everywhere; he was a
born godfather.
When I went to announce his death to his friend David Schoenbrun,
he said to me in the conversation that followed:  “You and I know each
other very little.  And yet Chim was a friend to both of us.  He was a man
of secret compartments and he forgot to make them communicate”.
He accepted the servitudes of his profession and turned out to be
brave in situations that seemed utterly foreign to his personality.
Chim picked up his camera the way a doctor takes his stethoscope
out of his bag, applying his diagnosis to the condition of the heart; his
own was vulnerable.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Written on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of David Seymour’s death.

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