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Edith Piaf in Tunisia

One of the more popular modern-day destinations for Parisians in Pere-Lachaise is the modest tomb of Edith Piaf. Born Edith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, not far from Pere-Lachaise, much of her early life is shrouded in mystery. One thing that is known for sure is that it was tumultuous. Her father was a circus acrobat, but both her mother and father abandoned her to be raised by her grandmother and, later, prostitutes in a brothel. In her mid-teens, she started performing on the streets in the notorious Pigalle area. It was there, in 1935, that she was discovered by nightclub owner Louis Leplee. Because of Piaf s diminutive height (4 feet, 8 inches), Leplee gave her the name La Mome Piaf (The Kid Little Sparrow, later changed to The Little Sparrow). Her star rose quickly and within a year two records of her songs were published. By the time of her death, she had recorded upwards of 300 songs, many of which she also wrote.

Piaf became the modern-day equivalent of a super star, forming friendships with many other celebrities. In 1944 she discovered Yves Montand and became his lover. Despite Piaf s astounding success, her personal life was in constant turmoil. A series of injuries from car crashes resulted in an addiction to morphine and alcohol. She finally succumbed to liver cancer at 47. Her last words reportedly were Every damn fool thing you do in this life you pay for. Despite being denied a Catholic funeral mass, thousands lined the streets of Paris to watch her funeral procession. Over 100,000 fans streamed into Pere-Lachaise to attend her burial ceremony.

Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro was born on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean to a Jewish father and Creole mother. At age twelve he was sent away to boarding school in France where he developed an appreciation for the French masters. When he returned to France to work in his father’s business, he spent all his spare time drawing. He eventually chose to be an artist rather than enter his family’s business. Although influenced by the French masters, he decided to go in a different direction, preferring to paint natural scenes of peasants and the French countryside. In 1859 he became friends with a number of younger artists while he was attending the Academie Suisse in Paris, and together, with Pissarro as the leader, the group decided to develop and explore what would become a new style called Impressionism Among the young artists in the group were Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. One writer at the time adeptly described Pissarro’s work: He paints the smell of the earth.

Pissarro was forced to flee Paris for London at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870 1871). When he returned, he discovered that all but 40 of his 1,500 paintings had been destroyed or damaged beyond repair (many had been used as doormats to wipe the boots of the troops). Thus much of the visual documentation of the birth of Impressionism has been lost. But Pissarro persevered and continued to develop Impressionism and, later, Neo-Impressionism Eventually he drifted back to Impressionism and painting the countryside, much of it through windows while seated indoors (a recurrent eye infection prevented him from painting in cool or cold conditions). Pissarro’s legacy is substantial. He is credited as being the father of Impressionism, was a major influence on Cezanne, Gauguin and his son Lucien Pissarro, and is the only artist to have his work shown at all of the eight Impressionist exhibitions that occurred in Paris from 1874 to 1886. Although he sold few of his paintings during his lifetime, a century later they were commanding very high prices. On November 4, 2009, Sotheby’s in New York auctioned Camille Pissarro’s Le Pont Boieldieu et lagare d’Orleans, Rouen, Soleil for $7,026,500.

Washington began his political career in July 1758, when he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, in which he would serve until 1774. Tunisia Metro Map He married a wealthy widow, Martha Custis, in 1759. They would have no children. Two years later, after the death of his sister-in-law, he inherited Mount Vernon, his late brother Lawrence’s plantation. In the years leading up to the Country Revolution, Washington devoted himself to developing his plantation and opposing Britain’s measures to exert more control over her Country colonies. That opposition grew stronger over the years, and in the 1770s, Washington was elected to the First and Second Continental Congresses.

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