Marsden Hartley was an American Modernist painter and essayist. Hartley was born in Lewiston, where his English parents had settled, he was the youngest of nine children. His mother died when he was eight, his father remarried four years to Martha Marsden, his birth name was Edmund Hartley. A few years after his mother's death when Hartley was 14, his family moved to Ohio, leaving him behind in Maine to work in a shoe factory for a year; these bleak occurrences led Hartley to recall his New England childhood as a time of painful loneliness, so much so that in a letter to Alfred Stieglitz, he once described the New England accent as "a sad recollection rushed into my flesh like sharpened knives."After he joined his family in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1892, Hartley began his art training at the Cleveland School of Art, where he held a scholarship. In 1898, at age 22, Hartley moved to New York City to study painting at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase, attended the National Academy of Design.
Hartley was a great admirer of Albert Pinkham Ryder and visited his studio in Greenwich Village as as possible. His friendship with Ryder, in addition to the writings of Walt Whitman and American transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, inspired Hartley to view art as a spiritual quest. Hartley moved to an abandoned farm near Lovell, Maine, in 1908, he considered the paintings he produced there his first mature works, they impressed New York photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz. Hartley had his first solo exhibition at Stieglitz's 291 in 1909, exhibited his work there again in 1912. Stieglitz provided Hartley's introduction to European modernist painters, of whom Cézanne and Matisse would prove the most influential upon him. Hartley first traveled to Europe in April 1912, he became acquainted with Gertrude Stein's circle of avante-garde writers and artists in Paris. Stein, along with Sherwood Anderson, encouraged Hartley to write as well as paint. In 1913, Hartley moved to Berlin, where he continued to paint and befriended the painters Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.
He collected Bavarian folk art. His work during this period was a combination of abstraction and German Expressionism, fueled by his personal brand of mysticism. Many of Hartley's Berlin paintings were further inspired by the German military pageantry on display, though his view of this subject changed after the outbreak of World War I, once war was no longer "a romantic but a real reality." The earliest of his Berlin paintings were shown in the landmark 1913 Armory Show in New York. In Berlin, Hartley developed a close relationship with a Prussian lieutenant, Karl von Freyburg, the cousin of Hartley's friend Arnold Ronnebeck. References to Freyburg were a recurring motif in Hartley's work, most notably in Portrait of a German Officer. Freyburg's subsequent death during the war hit Hartley hard, he afterward idealized their relationship. Many scholars interpreted his work regarding Freyburg as embodying his homosexual feelings for him. Hartley returned to the U. S. in early 1916. He lived in Europe again from 1921 to 1930, when he moved back to the U.
S. for good. He painted throughout the country, in Massachusetts, New Mexico and New York, he returned to Maine in 1937, after declaring that he wanted to become "the painter of Maine" and depict American life at a local level. This aligned Hartley with the Regionalism movement, a group of artists active from the early- to mid-20th century that attempted to represent a distinctly "American art." He continued to paint in Maine scenes around Lovell and the Corea coast, until his death in Ellsworth in 1943. His ashes were scattered on the Androscoggin River. In addition to being considered one of the foremost American painters of the first half of the 20th century, Hartley wrote poems and stories, his book Twenty-five Poems was published by Robert McAlmon in Paris in 1923. Cleophas and His Own: A North Atlantic Tragedy is a story based on two periods he spent in 1935 and 1936 with the Mason family in the Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, fishing community of East Point Island. Hartley in his late 50s, found there both an innocent, unrestrained love and the sense of family he had been seeking since his unhappy childhood in Maine.
The impact of this experience lasted until his death in 1943 and helped widen the scope of his mature works, which included numerous portrayals of the Masons. He wrote of the Masons, "Five magnificent chapters out of an amazing, human book, these beautiful human beings, tender, courageous, kind, so like the salt of the sea, the grit of the earth, the sheer face of the cliff." In Cleophas and His Own, written in Nova Scotia in the fall of 1936 and re-printed in Marsden Hartley and Nova Scotia, Hartley expresses his immense grief at the tragic drowning of the Mason sons. The independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras has created a feature film Cleophas and His Own, released in 2005, which uses a personal testament by Hartley as its screenplay. A catalogue raisonné of Hartley's work is underway by art historian Gail Levin, Distinguished Professor at Baruch College, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Quotations related to Marsden Hartley at Wikiquote Media related to Marsden Hartley at Wikimedia Commons Marsden Hartley discussed in Conversations from Penn State interview Works by Marsden Hartley at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Marsden Hartley at Internet Archive Scans of Hartley's Adventures in the arts: informal chapters on painters and poets The Importance o
F. Holland Day
Fred Holland Day was an American photographer and publisher. He was the first in the United States to advocate. Day was the son of a Boston merchant, was a man of independent means for all his life. Day's life and works had long been controversial, since his photographic subjects were nude male youths. Pam Roberts, in F. Holland Day writes: "Day never married and his sexual orientation, whilst it is assumed that he was homosexual, because of his interests, his photographic subject matter, his general flamboyant demeanor, like much else about him, a private matter." Day spent much time among poor immigrant children in Boston, tutoring them in reading and mentoring them. One in particular, the 13-year-old Lebanese immigrant Kahlil Gibran, went on to fame as the author of The Prophet. Day co-founded and self-financed the publishing firm of Copeland and Day, which from 1893 through 1899 published about a hundred titles; the firm was influenced by William Morris's Kelmscott Press. The firm was the American publisher of Oscar Wilde's Salomé, illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley.
He is known to have traveled. Beaumont Newhall states that he visited Algiers as a result of reading Wilde and Gide. There is a photo "Portrait of F. Holland Day in Arab Costume, 1901" by Frederick H. Evans, he was a friend of Louise Imogen Guiney and Ralph Adams Cram, member of social clubs, such as the "Visionists", formed around shared interests in arts and literature. He was a major patron of Aubrey Beardsley, he was a lifelong bibliophile and collector. Most notable among his collections was his world-class collection on the poet John Keats. At the turn of the century, his influence and reputation as a photographer rivaled that of Alfred Stieglitz, who eclipsed him; the high point of Day's photographic career was his organization of an exhibition of photographs at the Royal Photographic Society in 1900. New School of American Photography presented 375 photographs by 42 photographers, 103 of them by Day, evoked both high praise and vitriolic scorn from critics; the popularist "Photographic News" saw it as the result... "of a diseased imagination, of which much has been fostered by the ravings of a few lunatics... unacademic...and eccentric".
Day belonged to the pictorialist movement which regarded photography as a fine art and which included symbolist imagery. The Photo-Secessionists invited him to join; as was common at the time, his photographs allude to classical antiquity in manner, composition and in theme. From 1896 through 1898 Day experimented with Christian themes. Neighbors in Norwood, Massachusetts assisted him in an outdoor photographic staged photography re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus; this culminated in his series of self-photographs, The Seven Last Words, depicting the seven last words of Christ. He made only a single print from a negative, he used only the platinum process, being unsatisfied with any other, lost interest in photography when platinum became unobtainable following the Russian Revolution. Day became all but forgotten for a number of reasons, he was eclipsed by Stieglitz. The pictorial and symbolist photographic style went out of fashion in the face of the radical shift towards early modernism in the art world.
Two thousand of his prints and negatives were lost in a 1904 fire. The few hundred that survived were sent to the Royal Photographic Society in the 1930s. Since the 1990s Day's works have been included in major exhibitions by museum curators, notably in the solo Day retrospective at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2000/2001 and similar shows at the Royal Photographic Society in England and the Fuller Museum of Art. Art historians are once again taking an interest in Day, there are now significant academic texts on Day's homoerotic portraiture, its similarities to the work of Walter Pater and Thomas Eakins. Day's house at 93 Day Street, Massachusetts is now a museum, the headquarters of the Norwood Historical Society. Estelle Jussim. Slave to Beauty: The Eccentric Life and Controversial Career of F. Holland Day. Stephen M. Parrish. Currents of the Nineties in Boston and London: Fred Holland Day, Louise Imogen Guiney, Their Circle. James Crump. F. Holland Day: Suffering the Ideal. F. Holland Day: Selected Texts and Bibliography.
Samuel Coale et al. New Perspectives on F. Holland Day. Patricia Fanning. Through an Uncommon Lens: The Life and Photography of F. Holland Day. Fred Holland Day House The F. Holland Day Historic House: About Fred Holland Day The F. Holland Day Historic House: Common Errors and Suggested Readings
John Duncan Fergusson
For the Chairman of Corrections Corporation of America, see John D. Ferguson. John Duncan Fergusson was a Scottish artist and sculptor, regarded as one of the major artists of the Scottish Colourists school of painting. Fergusson was born in Leith, Edinburgh He was the first of 4 children. Although he trained as a naval surgeon, Fergusson soon realised that his vocation was painting and he enrolled at the Trustees Academy, an Edinburgh-based art school, he became disenchanted with the rigid teaching style and elected to teach himself to paint. To this end, he began to travel to Morocco and France, where he became acquainted with other artists of the day. Amongst them was Samuel Peploe, another of the group of artists who would become identified as the Scottish Colourists. In 1898, Fergusson took his first trip to Paris to study at the Louvre, he was influenced by the impressionist paintings at the Salle Caillebotte and these were an important influence on his developing style. He would be influenced by Fauvism and the fauvist principles of using colour would become a strong feature of his art.
Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac wrote in his foreword to Fergusson's memorial exhibition of 1961: "His art is a deep and pure expression of his immense love of life. Endowed with a rare plastic feeling sculptural in its quality, he joined with it an exceptional sense of colour, ringing colours and splendid in their substance."Fergusson became part of the enormous growth in artistic talent that Paris was home to at the beginning of the twentieth century. There he mingled with artists like Matisse and Picasso in the café society for which the city was renowned. In addition, he and his friend Samuel Peploe painted together at Paris Plage and other places along the coast between 1904-9, it was at this period too that he commenced his relationship with the American illustrator Anne Estelle Rice, whom he encouraged to take up painting. She had been sent to Paris to provide drawings for articles on theatre, ballet and race meetings published in the North American magazine and was to figure in many of Fergusson's canvases.
By the outbreak of World War I, Fergusson was considered to be at the forefront of modern British painting. During the war years, however, he achieved little artistically and it was only towards the end of the war that he regained the momentum in his work. In the 1920s Fergusson was settled in a studio in London, his first solo exhibition was in 1923 and he was involved in several important group exhibitions. In 1928 he and his partner, the dancer Margaret Morris, moved to Paris, where they lived until the spectre of war once again loomed over Europe, prompting the couple to move to Glasgow in 1939 where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. A member of Glasgow Art Club, Fergusson exhibited a portrait in the club's exhibition, April 1939. In 1940 Fergusson founded the New Art Club, out of which emerged the New Scottish Group of painters of which he was the first president. In 1943 he published his book on "Modern Scottish Painting". On his death, his widow, Margaret Morris, presented fourteen of his paintings to the University of Stirling when it was founded in 1968.
His work remains popular and in 1992 a permanent gallery was founded in Perth to house it. Fergusson Gallery, Perth An illustrated survey of Fergusson’s paintings Exhibition of paintings and sculpture, an exhibition catalog from 1928, available from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries.'Stirling University', Fergusson at Stirling University
Paul Strand was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas and Africa. Strand was born in New York City to Bohemian parents. In his late teens, he was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, it was while on a fieldtrip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously. Stieglitz would promote Strand's work in the 291 gallery itself, in his photography publication Camera Work, in his artwork in the Hieninglatzing studio; some of this early work, like the well-known Wall Street, experimented with formal abstractions.
Other of Strand's works reflect his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform. He was one of the founders of the Photo League, an association of photographers who advocated using their art to promote social and political causes. Over the next few decades, Strand worked in motion pictures as well as still photography, his first film was Manhatta known as New York the Magnificent, a silent film showing the day-to-day life of New York City made with painter/photographer Charles Sheeler. Manhatta includes a shot similar to Strand's famous Wall Street photograph. In 1932–35, he lived in Mexico and worked on Redes, a film commissioned by the Mexican government, released in the US as The Wave. Other films he was involved with were the documentary The Plow That Broke the Plains and the pro-union, anti-fascist Native Land. In June 1949, Strand left the United States to present Native Land at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia; the remaining 27 years of his life were spent in Orgeval, where, despite never learning the language, he maintained an impressive, creative life, assisted by his third wife, fellow photographer Hazel Kingsbury Strand.
Although Strand is best known for his early abstractions, his return to still photography in this period produced some of his most significant work in the form of six book "portraits" of place: Time in New England, La France de Profil, Un Paese, Tir a'Mhurain / Outer Hebrides, Living Egypt and Ghana: An African Portrait. Born in New York as Nathaniel Paul Stransky to merchant Jacob Stransky and Matilda Stransky. Strand married the painter Rebecca Salsbury on January 21, 1922, he photographed her sometimes with uncommonly close compositions. After divorcing Salsbury, Strand married Virginia Stevens in 1935, they divorced in 1949. The timing of Strand’s departure to France is coincident with the first libel trial of his friend Alger Hiss, with whom he maintained a correspondence until his death. Although he was never a member of the Communist Party, many of Strand’s collaborators were either Party members or were prominent socialist writers and activists. Many of his friends were Communists or were suspected of being so.
Strand was closely involved with Frontier Films, one of more than 20 organizations that were identified as "subversive" and "un-American" by the US Attorney General. Strand insisted that his books should be printed in Leipzig, East Germany if this meant that they were prohibited from the American market on account of their Communist provenance. De-classified intelligence files, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and now lodged at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, reveal that Strand’s movements around Europe were monitored by the security services. Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century and Albert Museum, March–July 2016 Notes Further reading Barberie, Peter. Paul Strand: Aperture Masters of Photography. Hong Kong: Aperture. ISBN 0-89381-077-0. Barberie and Bock Amanda N. ed. “Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography.” Yale University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0300207927. Gualtieri, Elena. Paul Strand Cesare Zavattini: Lettere e immagini, Bora, 2005.
ISBN 88-88600-37-X. Hambourg, Maria Morris, Paul Strand circa 1916, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998 MacDonald, Fraser. "Paul Strand and the Atlanticist Cold War" History of Photography 28.4, 356–373. Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography. New York: Abbeville Press. ISBN 0-7892-0028-7. Stange, Maren. Paul Strand: essays on his life and work, New York: Aperture 1991. Weaver, Mike, "Paul Strand: Native Land", The Archive 27, 5–15. Paul Strand biography, related artists and categories, works on Artsy Karen Rosenberg, "Expatriate Humanist, Lens Up His Sleeve, Paul Strand’s Lifetime of Photography, at Philadelphia Museum", The New York Times, October 23, 2014 Zachary Rosen, "The photographer Paul Strand’s 1960’s Portrait of Ghana", Africa is a Country, 19 November 2014 Masters of Photography: Paul Strand
The Salon d'Automne, or Société du Salon d'automne, is an annual art exhibition held in Paris, France since 1903. The first Salon d'Automne was created under the initiative of the Belgian architect, literary man and art collector Frantz Jourdain, along with the architect Hector Guimard, the painters George Desvallières, Eugène Carrière, Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard and the Maison Jansen, a Paris-based interior decoration office founded in 1880 by Dutch-born Jean-Henri Jansen. Perceived as a reaction against the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon, this massive exhibition immediately became the showpiece of developments and innovations in 20th-century painting, sculpture, engraving and decorative arts. During the Salon's early years, established artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir threw their support behind the new exhibition and Auguste Rodin displayed several works. Since its inception, works by artists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, Georges Rouault, André Derain, Albert Marquet, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes and Marcel Duchamp have been shown.
In addition to the 1903 inaugural exhibition, three other dates remain significant for the Salon d'Automne: 1905 bore witness to the birth of Fauvism. The aim of the salon was to encourage the development of the fine arts, to serve as an outlet for young artists, a platform to broaden the dissemination of Impressionism and its extensions to a popular audience. Choosing the autumn season for the exhibition was strategic in several ways: it not only allowed artists to exhibit canvases painted outside during the summer, it stood out from the other two large salons which took place in the spring; the Salon d'Automne is distinguished by its multidisciplinary approach, open to paintings, photographs, engravings, applied arts, the clarity of its layout, more or less per school. Foreign artists are well represented; the Salon d'Automne boasts the presence of a politician and patron of the arts, Olivier Sainsère as a member of the honorary committee. For Frantz Jourdain, public exhibitions served an important social function by providing a forum for unknown, emerging artists, for providing a basis for the general public's understanding of the new art.
This was the idea behind Jourdain's dream of opening a new "Salon des Refusés" in the late 1890s, realized in the opening the Salon d'Automne in 1903. Providing a venue where unknown artists could be recognized, while'wrestling' the public out of its complacency were, to Jourdain, the greatest contributions to society the critic could make; the platform of the Salon d'Automne was based on an open admission, welcoming artists in all areas of the arts. Jurors were members of society itself, not members of the Academy, the state, or official art establishments. Refused exhibition space in the Grand Palais, the first Salon d'Automne was held in the poorly lit, humid basement of the Petit Palais, it was backed financially by Jansen. While Rodin applauded the endeavor, submitted drawings, he refused to join doubting it would succeed. Notwithstanding, the first Salon d'Automne, which included works by Matisse and other progressive artists, was unexpectedly successful, was met with wide critical acclaim.
Jourdain, familiar with the multifaceted world of art, predicted the triumph would arouse animosity: from artist who resented the accent on Gauguin and Cézanne, from academics who resisted attention given to the decorative arts, soon, from the Cubists, who suspected the jurors favoring of Fauvism at their expense. Paul Signac, president of the Salon des Indépendants, never forgave Jourdain for having founded a rival salon. What he had not predicted was a retaliation that threatened the future of the new salon. Carolus-Duran threatened to ban from his Société established artists who might consider exhibiting at the Salon d'Automne. Retaliating in defense of Jourdain, Eugène Carrière issued a statement that if forced to choose, he would join the Salon d'Automne and resign from the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts; the valuable publicity generated by the press articles on the controversy worked in favor of the Salon d'Automne. Thus, Eugène Carrière saved the burgeoning salon. Henri Marcel, sympathetic to the Salon d'Automne, became director of the Beaux-Arts, assured it would take place at the prestigious Grand Palais the following year.
The success of the Salon d'Automne was not, due to such controversy. Success was due to the tremendous impact of its exhibitions on both the art world and the general public, extending from 1903 to the outset of the First World War; each successive exhibition denoted a significant phase in the development of modern art: Beginning with retrospectives of Gauguin, Cézanne and others. In his defense of artistic liberty, Jourdain attacked not individuals, but institutions, such as the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the Société des Artistes Français, the École des Beaux-Arts, r
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona