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More About Upper Class Men

In nineteenth century Paris, upper class men maintained control over the political system and the political process. Many were well educated at colleges and universities. Some of these men thought of their wives as critical but subservient resources who brought money, family, and social position into marriage. Some middle class men even purchased titles in order to join the aristocratic upper class. In spite of their professed puritanical morals, many upper class men visited prostitutes for sexual adventures or kept mistresses. Baron George Haussman took a mistress from the corps de ballet, following a common, established, and expected pattern of male power.

The Classiest Painter Guys
Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) was born into a wealthy family. He was formally trained as a naval architect. While successfully showing and selling his own paintings, he also became a great patron of fellow Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, particularly Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), and Alfred Sisley (1939-1899), by purchasing many of their works and donating them to the nation of France upon his death. His friendships with Monet and Renoir were very close and personal. Caillebotte is thought to have generously made self-sacrifices to spare Monet financial and critical competition by not including his own excellently painted works with similar subject matter in their group exhibitions. Very successful as an entrepreneur, pursued by marriage-minded women, he remained a confirmed bachelor.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec came from one of the most distinguished French families, his mother was Comtesse Adele de Toulouse-Lautrec-Montfa. Born an aristocrat, Lautrec grew up sheltered by relatives until his mid-twenties, as an adult he led a double life, alternating between hosting guests at his motherís upper class country estate and throwing parties in his rented artistís garret in Paris. His wild life ended young, a victim of alcoholism and venereal disease.

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) was born in the Dutch West Indies to wealthy Jewish parents but offended his family by marrying into the lower class. He wed Julie Vellay, a farmerís daughter, who had worked as maid and cookís assistant in his parentsí home; together they raised chickens, rabbits, pigeons, and a family of eight children in a middle class Parisian suburb. Pissarro was a modest man who relocated his family, and generously provided a home for his mother, siblings and their families in London from 1870 until after the Franco-Prussian War.

Alfred Sisley (1939-1899), was born in Paris the son of wealthy English parents. He was educated in England but returned to France to paint as an adult; he had achieved some financial success as an artist, but was left completely destitute by the invading troops in 1870. Monet welcomed Sisley into his home for a short time; in about a year, Sisley painted and sold at least fifty-nine canvases and temporarily regained his former financial position. His mistress, florist Eugenie Lescouezec, raised Sisleyís two children. In the end, he died poor and did not achieve lasting professional or financial success in his lifetime.

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