Stirring up Europe’s melting pot
While no one was looking, France has become a melting pot of European peoples. Its neighbors have traditionally been welcomed, and France progressively turned them into French boys and girls in the next generation.
I love the diversity of faces and I make the most of them in this book, my second volume of portraits, “25 More Unforgettable French Faces”. Where is the common denominator? It’s not easy to spot. A teen-aged daughter of an English friend visited France for the first time recently. Stepping off the Eurostar cross-channel train, she exclaimed to her father, “Wow. These people are different.”
She had a point. Mixed among the pure-bred French are people from elsewhere, carrying such names as named Zidane (Algerian origin), Belmondo (Italian), Montand (Italian), Sarkozy (Hungarian) Bonaparte (Corsican-Italian) Signoret (German) and Zemmour (Algerian Jewish).
It’s a portraitist’s paradise.
In this new volume of portraits and mini-biographies, I have collected some unusual biographical details and many facial varieties. Some excerpts of the text:
VOLTAIRE – This bad boy of 18th century literature was born in Paris, the youngest of five children. His brother and sister affectionately nicknamed him “Zozo”, which in English translates “nitwit” or “idiot”? He was never a simple case. Scholars have counted 178 pseudonyms he employed over his lifetime.
SIMONE SIGNORET – Growing old can be unforgiving for beautiful young actresses, and this French cinema star was among the least fortunate. Her excessive use of tobacco and alcohol didn’t help. She died at 64, a physical wreck.
NICOLAS SARKOZY – Only two French presidents have ever been sentenced to prison for crimes related to their office, the late Jacques Chirac and his protégé Nicolas Sarkozy. Chirac died without serving time and Sarkozy continues to dispute his sentence.
KHATIA BUNIATISHVILI – The Georgian piano sensation is attempting the impossible – to present herself as a half-dressed fashion model and a serious concert pianist wrapped up in the same bundle. Concert-goers, including me, are confused. To be safe, I gave her extra fingers as a tribute to her pianism.
Scientists claim that of the 8 billion people on the planet, no two are identical, not even twins. I am fortunate to have such variety for my portraitist’s palette.
The new volume, “25 More Unforgettable French Faces”, is available on Amazon here.
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