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liberty

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830

 

During the Industrial Revolution, many children and adolescents worked in the suburbs of Paris. When out of work, they evolved in bands. Ragged and hungry, they roamed in the streets of the capital. The titis or gamins of Paris laughed at everything, didn’t hesitate to steal, and were adepts at vulgarity.

titi 2

 

The Parisian titi is embodied in the guise of Gavroche, a street child full of banter, mischief, and resourcefulness in Les Miserables. Victor Hugo moreover fondly calls him “this little great soul” when he collapses under bullets, during the barricades of 1830.   The child brandishing pistols in Eugène Delacroix’s painting  Liberty Leading the People (1830) is often cited as the main source of inspiration for Victor Hugo’s Gavroche.

 

Today, this heroic figure has been reduced to a kitschy character to charm tourists. Titi’s postcards can be purchased in every souvenir shop. Like all the Parisian fauna, the titi/gamin has been immortalized on film and in songs. Here is the most popular one along with other versions of the tacky art:

 

 

 

 

Related posts for People of Paris:

La Grisette  

Where the Revolutionaries Lived

 

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