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Cesar Ducorne – a person with unlimited possibilities

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Cesar Ducorne – a person with unlimited possibilities

I have heard more than once that the word “disabled person” cannot be used, but “a person with disabilities” is needed. To be honest, I'm a little nauseous from such expressions. Especially from "people with disabilities." I have never met a disabled person who does not like the word "disabled person". But there are many healthy people who are ready to eat you for the wrong expression, in their opinion. After all, everything is simple. A disabled person, as a rule, has a lot of health problems, and he has no time to delve into word formation. Another point: you must admit, no one likes when they enter its territory and begin to establish their own rules. And personally, I don’t understand how healthy can intervene and teach how to call whom.

Denis Semenov and Ekaterina Savostyanova at the presentation of her book. Photo by Andrey Petrov

Why am I giving myself the right to speak on these topics with ease? Probably because the disabled person of group II after a stroke. Yes, after the illness I could become grouchy and embittered all over the world. But it so happened that it was after her that I fell in love with what I have. And I have an incredible amount: my wife, Moscow, to whom I came to her and I can’t imagine life without her, the book “The Golden Salamander” written by us – just about the fact that you can never give up, my pension (many say that it’s small, but even enough for annual travels abroad), my work as a journalist, which I really love, for example, for writing this article. And sometimes I am so bursting with joy that I own so much that I want to share it with others.

So, from today we are opening a new section where we will talk about people with disabilities who, in the battle with their illness, were able to emerge victorious. It would seem that they should have been forgotten for a long time, but they managed to “stake out” a place for themselves so that they are still remembered. And the most amazing thing is that they wrote, painted, were engaged in a thousand things, not only in the XX-XXI centuries, when people with disabilities have a lot of help, but also in time immemorial. In conditions that cannot even be imagined by a modern person.

And today we will talk about the nineteenth century, about Cesar Ducorn (1806-1856).


I. Robillard. Portrait of Louis Joseph Cesar Ducorn, lithography

He was born in France, in the city of Lille, in a very poor family. Without arms and hips. At his disposal was only the right leg with four fingers. He moved around the city, clinging to the back of his father, who had developed an ingenious strap system that allowed him to carry his son. From early childhood, Cesar showed a love for drawing, throwing pictures with chalk, which he kept in his leg. His sketches impressed the director of the prestigious Academy of Arts in Lille, and he accepted Cesar to study. And after only a few months, shocked by the skill of the young man, the director found a scholarship to study César in Paris. The boy at that time was only 13 years old.

Self portrait

Thus, Ducorne began to receive the Lille scholarship and the Louis XVIII scholarship (by the way, this is the question – how could the scholarship of the king remain after the Great Revolution?), Which allowed him to enter the Guillaume Guillon-Leter workshop and finish it without any problems. Ducorn so perfected his talent in the capital that in 1856 the artist's works were exhibited in the Louvre.


Cesar painted this picture when he was 18 years old

What an amazing movie you could make about this man! Just imagine: Osman, the mayor who 60% destroyed Paris and rebuilt it as we know it now (well, then there was no Internet and rampant moans “destroy!” Didn’t reach our days), almost half a century. The then capital of France is a medieval cesspool with tramps, prostitutes and murderers, appearing as soon as it gets dark. And it was getting dark early: there was no electricity yet. And among all this, a disabled boy, who had only one desire in life – to draw.

Cesar Ducorn Hector's farewell to Andromache

How did he move to Paris? Indeed, now for many, a trip there is a whole event, and then? 200 years ago, when there were no planes or trains? Who helped him (and someone must have been with him around the clock)? In my imagination, this is a servant – a strong young man who can tolerate a disabled person. Where and how did he live, was it far to the place of study? Were women interested in them? There are many questions, and we will never know the answers. At our disposal are only a few dry lines in Russian-language and foreign encyclopedias and … our imagination.

Among the well-known armless artists were those who, in addition to the brush, had a good command of musical instruments. This is Jean de Ono from Brussels, who was a skilled mandolin player, and Gottfried Dietze – not only a famous portrait painter, but also the best accordionist of his native Saxony, and American James Elroy, who owned a virtuoso playing the horn.

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