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Posts Tagged ‘portraits’

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

For any young man politically minded and also a collector of quotes Thomas Paine is an inescapable presence whose quotes even this day have not lost their shine. In this age where all major religions are suffering from the virus of fundamentalism it is merely a caution well taken. Did he not say “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead?” His sane voice urging the man on the street that ‘he should not petition for his rights but take them,’ made the American revolution a necessity. His ‘Common Sense(1776)* was so influential for John Adams to observe, “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

A corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination his footprints in England, America and France left in their wake great many who were his allies and admirers turn on him in the end as fiercely as they had warmed up to his clarion call.2.

Born in Thetford England in the county of Norfolk, Paine emigrated to the British American colonies in 1774 and it was Benjamin Franklin who advised him to go to America and he just did, arriving in time to participate in the American Revolution.

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Paine lived in France for most of the 1790s, becoming deeply involved in the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), in part a defence of the French Revolution against its critics. His attacks on British writer Edmund Burke led to a trial and conviction in absentia in 1792. In 1792, despite not being able to speak French, he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally. Consequently, the Montgnards especially Robespierre regarded him as an enemy. He narrowly missed guillotine and Thomas Jefferson as the Third President of the new Republic invited him to settle down in the new nation. His later years were plagued by ill health, neglect and when he died only six people attended his funeral. Quakers refused him burial and he was finally buried in a part of the grounds attached to his home.

*Common Sense

Paine used “common sense” as a weapon to delegitimize the monarchy and overturn prevailing conventional wisdom. He used two ideas from Scottish Common Sense Realism and from Philosophes. The idea is that ordinary people can indeed make sound judgments on major political issues, and that there exists a body of popular wisdom that is readily apparent to anyone. The Continental Enlightenment spread out influencing people as to how they thought. It empowered people in France to think for themselves. They held that common sense could refute the claims of traditional institutions. According to Sophia Rosenfeld the phenomenal appeal of his pamphlet resulted from his synthesis of popular and elite elements in the independence movement.

2.

Paine decided that President George Washington had conspired with Robespierre to imprison him. Embittered by this perceived betrayal, Paine tried to ruin Washington’s reputation by calling him a treacherous man unworthy of his fame as a military and political hero. Paine described Washington as an incompetent commander and a vain and ungrateful person. In a scathing open letter to President Washington in 1796, he wrote: “the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor; whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.

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Maréchal Ferdinand Foch’s (1851-1929) rise to fame is firmly embedded in the popular consciousness of France as a symbol of Gallic spirit and determination to resist the invader at any cost. It was as the commander of the Ninth Army during the first battle of the Marne he displayed decisiveness that would turn the tide of the battle. Only a week after taking command, with the whole French Army in full retreat, he was forced to fight a series of defensive actions to prevent a German breakthrough. During the advance at the marshes in St.-Gond he is said to have declared: “My center is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking.” These words were seen as a symbol both of Foch’s leadership which seems was, however lost on Maxime Weygand, his chief of staff .

Foch influenced General Joseph Joffre (chief of general staff, July 28, 1911 – Dec. 12,1916) when he drafted the French plan of campaign (Plan 17) in 1913.

Joseph Joffre(1852-1931)

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Papa Joffre (as he was called) took charge as Chief of the French General Staff in 1911.

In this capacity Joffre was responsible for the development of the deeply flawed Plan XVII blueprint for the invasion of Germany, which did not take account of the likelihood of a German invasion of France through Belgium.

Responsible for the French war effort, Joffre’s remarkable qualities of magisterial calm and an absolute refusal to admit defeat proved vital during the early days of the war, particularly during the First Battle of the Marne, after which he was declared the saviour of France, although others since claimed credit for saving France at the Marne, including Gallieni.

After two and a half years as Chief of Staff, Joffre was effectively dismissed on 13 December 1916 following the initial success of the German offensive at Verdun and other failures.  He was made Marshal of France on the same day.

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(Ack: firstworldwar.com,wikipedia)

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(1856-1951 ) Marshal,

Politician, war hero of Verdun

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Philippe Henri Pétain was a military and political leader and France´s greatest hero in World War I (1914-1918). He was later condemned as a traitor for having headed the pro-German Vichy regime after France’s defeat in World War II (1939-1945). 
     Born in Cauchy-ó-la-Tour in 1856, Pétain was educated at the Saint-Cyr military academy and the École Supérieure de Guerre (army war college) in Paris. As a general during World War I, he won fame for his successful defense of Verdun against the Germans in 1916. Later, as commander in chief, he did much to restore morale in the French army after a series of mutinies in 1917. He was made a marshal of France the following year. During the 1920s Pétain served in French Morocco. In 1934 he was minister of war, and from 1939 to 1940 he was ambassador to Spain. 
     Following the German invasion of France in 1940, Pétain – then 84 years old – was recalled to active military service as adviser to the minister of war. On June 16, 1940, hesucceeded Paul Reynaud as premier of France and soon afterward he asked the Germans for an armistice, which was concluded on June 22. On July 2, with the consent of the Germans, he established his government in Vichy in central France, and on July 10 he assumed the title of chief of state, ruling thereafter with dictatorial powers over that portion of France not directly under German control. Pétain and his prime minister, Pierre Laval, established a Fascist-oriented government that became notorious for its collaboration with German dictator Adolf Hitler. The Vichy government ruled with Germany’s approval, appointing all government officials, controlling the press, and practicing arbitrary arrests. The government also passed anti-Semitic laws and rounded up French, Spanish, and Eastern European Jews who were deported to German concentration camps.

With the German army occupying two-thirds of the country, Pétain believed he could repair the ruin caused by the invasion and obtain the release of the numerous prisoners of war only by cooperating with the Germans. In the southern part of France, left free by the armistice agreement, he set up a paternalistic regime the motto of which was “Work, Family, and Fatherland.” Reactionary by temperament and education, he allowed his government to promulgate a law dissolving the Masonic lodges and excluding Jews from certain professions.

He was, however, opposed to the policy of close Franco-German collaboration advocated by his vice premier Pierre Laval, whom he dismissed in December 1940, replacing him with Admiral François Darlan. Pétain then attempted to practice a foreign policy of neutrality and delay. He secretly sent an emissary to London, met with the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco , whom he urged to refuse free passage of Adolf Hitler’s army to North Africa, and maintained a cordial relationship with Admiral William Leahy, the U.S. ambassador to Vichy until 1942.

When, in April 1942, the Germans forced Pétain to take Laval back as premier, he himself withdrew into a purely nominal role.


     After the Allies landed in France in 1944, Pétain went toGermany and then to Switzerland. He returned to France after the war to stand trial for treason. In August 1945 he was found guilty of intelligence with the enemy and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he was moved to Ile d’Yeu, an island off the coast of Brittany, where he died.

(Ack:worldatwar.net/biography, Brittanica.com)

 

 

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From my Sketchbook-face of a man

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Self- Portrait: Hans Holbein in watercolor

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George Clemenceau

GEORGE CLEMENCEAU (French) (1841 – 1929)
Statesman.

Clemenceau stood for the principles of the French Revolution – authoritarian, democratic, patriotic; he was a 20th Century Jacobin.
The French politician who had the most nicknames (Le Tombeur des Ministères, Le Tigre, Père la Victoire) and fought the most duels, he began his career as a radical deputy and outspoken journalist in continous conflict with catholics, royalists, moderates and Socialists. His greatest moment came in 1917 when P.M. for the second time, elderly and deaf, he still became the symbol and inspiration of the French determination to win the war. In the peace negotiations he tried to get security for France against Germany. Yet was attacked for not being more successful; he was defeated in the Presidential elections of 1920 and retired. He was an independent character:(In 1919 en route for same ceremony, he met Balfour in the lift. Balfour was wearing a top hat and Clemenceau, his battered deer stalker. A puzzled Balfour:”But they told me that I have to wear a silk hat”. Clemenceau replied:”They told me that too”). And a sardonic wit. (Si, seulement je pouvais passer comme Lloyd George parle).

benny

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virginia-2

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