Charles Alphonse Gumery; Adolphe Ernest Gumery - French Artist and Sculptor


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Gumery Family of French Artists & Sculptors

Early Gumery Family

Members of the Gumery family first came to the village of Passy in 1788 - a pass was issued allowing the Masters Augustin and François Gumery to enter the village of Passy from the village of Auteuil. The lord of the manor of the barony of Sainte Hélène des Millières in Savoy requested aid and protection for "Augustin and François Gumery of the parish of Notre Dame des Millières, people of honour and probity" who wished to go to Paris.

The progenitor of this particular line of artists was Joseph Gumery who was born in 1755 in the parish of Notre Dame des Millières in Savoy, and settled in Paris where he died on 6 January 1823. His son Nicolas (some references call him Achille but according to family information he was in fact named Nicolas) was born in 1798.

Nicolas Gumery

Nicolas Gumery was born in Paris in 1798, the son of Joseph Gumery. About 1825 he married Jeanne Françoise Adolphine Tarlé. Achille was the first teacher at the village school in Passy, later becoming its first headmaster. The school was on the Rue de Raynouard (at that time 11 Rue Basse) next door to the house that would become Balzac's home. Documents at the Ministry of State Education dated 30 June 1835 mention Gumery as "teacher of the commune of Passy, canton of Neuilly, arrondissement of St Denis".

Passy is situated between the River Seine and the Bois de Boulogne in eastern Paris, across the river and just a little to the south of the Eiffel Tower. In the 13th century Passy was a woodcutters' hamlet, being incorporated into the city of Paris in 1859. During the 19th century it was a peaceful residential quartier with houses in their own gardens. Sadly today these houses are being replaced by large blocks of flats.


1) Charles Alphonse Achille born 14 June 1827 in Paris.

2) François Adolphe born 3 September 1828 in Paris, became an officer in the 3rd Regiment of the Imperial Guard and fought in the Crimean War. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur.

Map of Passy, Paris

Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery

Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery was born in Paris on 14 June 1827, the son of Nicolas Gumery and his wife Jeanne Françoise Adolphine Tarlé. In 1859 he married Emilia Sarah de Medeiros (1830-1918) who was of Anglo-Portugeuse origin. Emilia was the daughter of Joâo Carvalho de Medeiros, a Portuguese from the Azore Islands, and his first wife who was English. Joâo came to Passy about 1840 and worked in a small soap factory by the name "Miel-Dieu". They lived next door to the Gumerys in Rue Basse. A bust of Emilia was sculpted from terracotta by Jean Gautherin in 1876 and today is in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery died in Paris on 19 January 1871 and was buried in the family plot at Montmartre cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Emilia, who died in 1918 aged 88 years, and is also buried at Montmartre. To friends and family Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery was known as Achille, and frequently signed his work "A. Gumery".


1) Charles Achille born circa 1860, died 1888.

2) Adolphe Ernest born 5 April 1861 Rue de Vaugirard, Paris.

Charles Alphonse Gumery was a student of Armand François Toussaint (1806-1862) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1850 for his sculpture Achilles Wounded in the Heel by Paris. The statue depicts Achilles turning sideways to inspect the wound in his heel delivered by Paris's arrow. Gumery shows his subject as nonchalantly inspecting his wound, even though it will eventually kill him. The original plaster of Achilles Wounded is at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Achilles Wounded in the Heel by Paris, 1850, plaster

Achilles Wounded in the Heel by Paris, 1850, plaster

The Prix de Rome was a scholarship for promising art students, created in France in 1663 by Louis XIV. It was divided into four categories - painting, sculpting, architecture and engraving. The winners were entitled to four years study at the Academy of France in Rome. As his prize Gumery studied at the Villa Médicis in Rome from 1851-55.

In 1859 Gumery does a bas-relief sculpture for the church Notre-Dame de Grâce de Passy in Rue de l'Annonciation, and sculpts statues for the Saint-Michel fountain.

The two most publicly visible of Gumery's statues would be those of L'Harmonie and La Poesie standing on top of the roof on either side of the Paris Opera House. On 8 December 1869 Gumery was commissioned to sculpt two statues for the roof of the Opéra by his friend the architect Charles Garnier. On the night of 28/29 August 1869 ink was thrown over the statue La Danse at the Opéra, sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - it was thought by the public to be indecent because of the nudity of the figures. The stains were never quite removed. Garnier asked Gumery to sculpt another La Danse to replace Carpeaux group. After Napoleon III declared war on Prussia in 1870, Gumery's death in 1871, then the death of Carpeaux in 1875, the scandal was forgotten and Carpeaux statues remained in place, La Danse being on the right side of the front façade of the Opera. The original La Danse has been removed to the Musée d’Orsay as it was suffering from the effects of pollution, and in its place is a reproduction by Paul Belmondo. Gumery's La Danse is now in the Museum D'Angers.

During the building of the opera house Gumery's two sons, Achille and Adolphe, would play at the building site and would often sit in their fathers two huge statue groups. Later, in 1880, this scene was the subject of a painting by Etienne Dinet, a colleague and friend of Adolphe at the École des Beaux-Arts.

The Opéra de Paris, Palais Garnier, is today crowned on the left with Harmony and on the right Poetry, gilded statues sculpted from bronze, 7.50 meters high, forged by Gumery in 1868-9. In June 2000 a two year restoration was completed at the Opéra de Paris returning the building to its original state as Garnier intended it to be, and Gumery's statues have been gilded as seen below.

L'Harmonie, Palais Garnier, Paris

La Poesie, Palais Garnier, Paris

Gumery's statues, Palais Garnier, the old Paris Opera House - L'Harmonie on the left, and La Poesie (Poetry) on the right.


Palais Garnier 2002
Opéra de Paris, Palais Garnier, taken in 2000 after renovation, showing
the two gilded statues L'Harmonie on the left, and La Poesie right.

Recently on the online auction website, Ebay, there appeared a bronze portrait medallion sculpted by Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery in 1856 and signed "A Gumery" (he often signed himself "A Gumery"). On the back is the mark of the French scupltor Pierre-Jean David D'Angers (1788-1856) so the medallion is most likely of him to commemorate his death in 1856, cast by the Paris foundry of Eck and Durand.

Medallion of Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery 1856

Medallion of Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery 1856

Medallion of Pierre-Jean David D'Angers, sculpted by Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery in 1856 (found on Ebay)

The Jardin Marco Polo (2.7 acres/1.09 hectares) on the Avenue de l'Observatoire in Paris was one of two gardens created in 1867 between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Observatory. The two gardens are planted with four rows of chestnut trees and contain statues by the most famous sculptors of the Second Empire, including La Nuit (Night) by Charles Gumery.

On 29 June 1867 Gumery was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government.

La Nuit

La Nuit back view

La Nuit by Gumery in the Jardin Marco Polo.

Some of the many works of Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery are:-

  • bronze medallion of Armand François Toussaint (1806-1862), signed and dated 1850, Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris.

  • The Prodigal Son, marble statue, 1856, Gardens of the Chateau, Fontainbleau, Seine-et -Marne, France.

  • one of the four cardinal virtues on the Fontaine St Michel, bronze, 1858-60, Latin Quarter, Paris.

  • L'Agriculture et l'Industrie, bronze, 1860, Fountain, Square Emile-Chautemps, Rue du Sentier, Paris.

  • L'Harmonie, gilded bronze, 1860-5, Opéra de Paris.

  • La Poesie, gilded bronze, 1860-5, Opéra de Paris.

  • bronze medallion of Jean-Jaques Antoine Ampère (1800-1864), presented at the 1861 Salon, but may have been executed earlier, Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris.

  • bronze medallion of André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836), 1864, Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris.

  • medallions of Bach, Haydn, Cimarosa and Pergolèse, relief sculptures in stone, 1860-5, on the front facade, Opéra de Paris.

  • Amsterdam, stone statue, c.1864/5, one of eight statues depicting large European cities on top of the Gare du Nord, Paris.

  • Angel on a Stoup, marble statue, c.1865, Church of the Trinity, St Lazare, Paris.

  • La Nuit, stone sculpture, 1867, Jardin Marco Polo, Avenue de l'Observatoire, Paris.

  • La Faune jouant avec une Chevreau, statue, bronze with dark brown patination, 52cm high, "Gumery, Paris" is inscribed on the stand.

  • Danae, clay figurine, 18.7cm high, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Adolphe Ernest Gumery

Adolphe Ernest Gumery was born in Paris on 5 April 1861, the son of sculptor Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery and Emilia Sarah de Medeiros. In 1886 he married Adrienne Coca (1863-1956). Adrienne was the daughter of Arthur Coca (1837-1911), a public construction engineer from New Orleans, USA, and Adna Huber from Valenciennes. Adrienne was born in Montmartre on 7 February 1863. There was also a son, Arthur Coca. After her mother died, her father went to Mexico where he remarried and had further children. He made a fortune in Mexico and sent for Adrienne to join him, she spent one year there but returned to Paris in 1882, her father giving permission for her to marry Adolphe. Adolphe Ernest Gumery died on 5 January 1943 at his home at 56 Rue de Passy in Paris, and is buried in the family plot in Montmartre cemetery. Adrienne died in 1956.


1) Achille born 1 June 1889 in Paris; died 30 September 1914 in Saint Thierry, killed in action in World War One; buried at Montmartre cemetery.

2) Madeleine born 8 May 1896 in Paris; died 1978 at 56 Rue de Passy, Paris; married Pierre Izambard in 1917; => Viviane Izambard born 1919; married Jean Morel.

3) Roger born 3 November1897 in Paris; died 11 August 1917 in Epernay, killed in action in World War One; buried at Montmartre cemetery.

Gumery initially studied at the Lycée Henri IV. He was a brilliant pupil and won many prizes. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Galland, Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebre, graduating in 1882. From 1881 to 1891 he exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français. The family lived for a time at 24 Rue Truffaut in Batignolles in Paris, an area where many artists lived brought together by Manet in revolt against academism and in support of the ideas of Emile Zola. Emile Zola chose Gumery to do 14 watercolours to illustrate the original edition of his masterpiece novel Germinal published in 1885. Germinal is considered to be the greatest novel ever written in the French language, the realistic and harsh story of coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860s. Gumery did a portrait of Zola in 1884.

From 1891 to 1942 he exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts where he was made an Associate member in 1904, and a Member in 1906, later becoming a member of the jury, and finally the Secretary-General. Together with others he helped found the Salon d’Automne in 1906.

In 1901 the family return to live in Rue Basse in Passy, in what is today number 43 Rue Raynouard. Emilia, Adolphe's widowed mother, comes to live with them. Madeleine studies at the nearby Lycée Molière, and does a drawing course at the Atelier Colarossi and La Grande Chaumière. These years spent at the picturesque 43 Rue Raynouard were the happiest years for the family. Gumery was installed in his atelier in the terraced garden backing on to Rue Berton. The children played in the gardens and nearby waste ground over the fence. The river Seine could be seen from the house through the trees, also the Eiffel Tower as depicted in one of Adolphes paintings La Tour Eiffel, vue des jardins de Passy which today hangs in the Musée Carnavalet. Other paintings of the area are La Maison de Balzac sous la neige and Les pavots dans le jardin (both of which are now in the collections of La Maison de Balzac), or of people in the neighbourhood like Un passant rue Beston and Le rémouleur de Passy, and many of the children with their pets of scenes from in the house. About 1905 he painted a picture of his children at bath-time called Le Tub depicting Madeline Gumery aged about 8 years, and her brother Roger aged about 7 years. Today Le Tub hangs in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux.

The war brought great sadness to the family. Achille who had begun a career in decorating, and Roger who wanted to be an illustrator, were both killed in the war. In 1917 Adolphe, Adrienne, and the recently married Madeleine, move to an apartment at nearby 56 Rue de Passy. Gumery rented a workshop down the road from home, amongst the greenery in the back garden of 47 Rue de Passy. To help with his mourning Adolphe painted Portrait d'Achille, Roger sur son lit de mort and Portrait d'Adrienne en noir sur la grève.

Dans le Jardin

In 1917 Madeleine married Pierre Izambard. Pierre was born on 28 April 1896 in Montmartre in the house where Auguste Renoir lived, the son of Georges Izambard, a professor of Arthur Rimbaud, and his wife Adele. Pierre's sister, Marie, was a model for Renoir. Pierre went to war in 1916 and was wounded and buried alive by a shell blast. Luckily someone saw his boots sticking out of the dirt and thought he would have them, only to pull out a still alive but dazed soldier. Pierre and Madeleine went to live at 56 Rue de Passy where a daughter, Viviane, was born in 1919. Viviane became a source of joy to her grandfather after the loss of his two sons.

Gumery painted in many different locations around France - Brittany, Normandy, and Provence, and travelled to Spain, Morocco and Tunisia to paint. His son in law, Pierre Izambard, was appointed after the war as professor at the Chaptal College in Paris. Gumery had a great regard for his son in law. They were both of a similar happy, optimistic nature and both had a love of children. In 1920 Pierre was appointed to the college of Algiers and he, Madeleine and Viviane settled in Villa Paradou on the Boulevard Mustapha Supérieur. Adolphe and Adrienne visit regularly, with Adolphe being inspired by the light. He traveled the country painting, and during the three years the Izambards spent in Algiers, Gumery also visited Marrakech and Fez in Morocco. He visited his old friend, the orientalist painter, Etienne Dinet, who had converted to Islam and adopted the Arab way of life, and settled in Bou Saada. In 1925 the Izambards were assigned to Sousse in Tunisia, and again the Gumerys visited each year with Adolphe finding much to paint. In 1930 the Izambards returned to Paris, and in that same year the Gumerys and Izambards had their first visit to Carolles-sur-Mer where many paintings were executed.

Gumery had a number of private exhibitions in Paris, in his own atelier, and also at Georges Petit; and in Tunis and Brussels. The state acquired many of his paintings and today his paintings can be found in several important museums - the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée du Luxembourg, the Petit Palais, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, as well as museums in Bordeaux, Douai, Épinal, Hazebrouck, Albi, Laval, Brest, Dieppe, and Düsseldorf , and the Gallery Wanemaker in New York.

Adolphe Gumery, self portrait, 1939

In 1932 Gumery received the Prix Gillot-Dard for his painting Le voyage (now in the collection of the Musée des Années 30 in Boulogne-Billancourt), and then went to Spain with his wife, daughter and grand-daughter, where he painted La grande Vierge Noire de Montserrat and Les oies de la Cathédrale de Barcelona.

In 1938 returning from a jury meeting of the Société National des Beaux-Arts Gumery had a bad fall and broke his leg. He was taken back to Rue de Passy by car but it would be the last time he would leave the area. In 1939, at the age of 78,   he painted a self portrait, shown opposite. Times were difficult - the second world war had begun, there were food restrictions, the old house was uncomfortable and difficult to heat. By 1942 Gumerys health was worsening, though he was still painting in his workshop each day. Around this time Viviane had left France to work in the French embassy in Portugal. In August 1942 she got leave to visit Paris to see her grandfather - he took the opportunity to paint her one last time - Viviane.  In December 1942 he completed a painting entitled Les soucis, and said to Adrienne that it would be his last. He died on 5 January 1943, aged 82. His paintings spanned 65 years, from 1877 until 1942.

The art of Adolphe Ernest Gumery is difficult to classify, but then why does it have to be classified. He painted in the neo-classic tradition at the end of art school; as a naturalist at the time of his involvement with Emile Zola; as an orientalist in north Africa; as a post-impressionist between the two world wars. Adolphe Gumery lived only for his art and his family, he painted for the sheer love of it.

Adolphe Ernest Gumery, Self Portrait, 1939

Family visit to Chartreuse de Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1912

Family visit to Chartreuse de Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1912

Below are listed a few of the 1200 works by Adolphe Ernest Gumery:-

    Germinal d'Émile Zola, 1885, watercolour on paper
    The Benediction (La Bénédiction), Salon de 1889, oil on canvas
    Washerwomen in Provence, 1891, 38x48cm, oil on canvas
    Pêche à l'épervier de nuit, 1893, 81x116.5cm, oil on canvas
    Place de la Concorde, 1897, oil on board
    Leda and the swan, 1900, 100x81.3cm, oil on canvas
    Le bassin des Tuileries, 1900, 27x35cm, oil on board
    Nature morte à l'étoffe, 1900, 60x40cm, oil on wood
    In the orchard, ?1900, 66.5x99cm, oil on canvas and board
    Woman mending, 1908, 45.7x35.6cm, oil on canvas
    In a castle courtyard shoeing a horse, 1908, 62x46cm, oil panel
    Une chatte surveillant ses chaton, 1909, 65x50cm, oil on canvas
    Mère et enfant, 1910, 65x34cm, oil on canvas
    Shipyard, 1910, 54x81cm, oil on canvas
    Torero dans les coulisses de l'arène, 1910, 90x72cm, oil on canvas
    Les Hospitalisés: l'heure du repas, 1912, oil on canvas
    Mosque at Uskcir (Mosquée d'Uskcir), 1917, 46x43 cm, oil on canvas and board
    In the garden (Dans le jardin), 1919, 41x33cm, oil on canvas
    A child with her toys, 1920, 115.8x81.5cm, oil on canvas
    Market at Marrakech, 1920, oil on board
    Boats in the Port of Alger, 1920, 23.5x34cm, oil panel
    Mediterranean coastal landscape, 1921, 26x35cm, oil panel
    Le conteur, 1921, 99x80cm, oil on canvas
    Portrait d'homme à la barbe et au lorgnon, 1921, 61x46cm, oil on canvas
    Au cimetière des Princesses, Alger, 1921, 59x81.5cm, oil on canvas
    Vue d'une terasse d'Alger, 1921, 54x65cm, oil on board
    Algerian Scene, 1922, 13x14cm, oil on board
    Adoration of the Magi, 1924, 266.7x233.7cm, oil on canvas
    Laveuses de laine à Sousse, 1924, 65x49cm, oil on canvas
    Amphitheatre El Djem, Tunisia, 1926, 60x40cm, oil, panel
    Cirque ambulant, 1927, 60x73cm, oil on canvas
    L'Oasis, 1927, 27x35cm, oil on board
    Ruins at El Djem, Tunisia, 1927, 20.5x40cm, oil on board
    The Orange Seller (Le Marchand d'Oranges), 1927, 16x19.6cm, oil, panel
    Les coulisses du théâtre, 1928, 45x65cm, painting
    Le retour des flamants roses sur le Lac de Tunis, 1928, 81x105cm, oil on canvas
    La grande Vierge Noire de Montserrat, 1932, 100x81cm, oil on canvas
    Le Voyage, 1932, 184x205cm, oil on canvas
    Beach scene, 1936, 29.2x40cm, oil on board
    Portrait of a lady with a greyhound, 1938, 194x129.5cm, oil on canvas
    Cavalier cosaque à la lance au galop sur un champs de bataille, date unknown, pencil and charcoal drawing signed bottom left
    Bateaux au port, date unknown, 44.5x57.5cm, watercolour on paper
    Vue de l'ancien fort de Rabatt, 1921, 30x40cm, watercolour on paper

    Washerwomen in Provence

    Washerwomen in Provence

Recently in the town hall of the 16th Arrondissement in Paris, an exhibition of one hundred works of Gumery were exhibited. His paintings, drawings and watercolours were on display from the 19th until the 30th May 2006. It was advertised thus:-
Un peintre au tournant du siècle - En hommage à Adolphe Gumery (1861–1943) qui habitait à Passy, une grande exposition réunira, à la Mairie du 16e arrondissement, une centaine d’oeuvres du peintre, aquarelles, dessins et peintures. Chevillé entre le XIXe et le XXe siècle, peintre de la nature dans le sillon des Impressionnistes, à la fois classique et moderne, particulièrement estimé comme orientaliste (1920 – 1930), Adolphe Gumery reste inclassable. Toute sa vie, il a peint pour le plaisir de peindre. Fils du sculpteur Charles Gumery, ami de Garnier et Zola, il côtoie les milieux artistiques et participe régulièrement à de nombreux salons. De la beauté des paysages de Bretagne, de Normandie, d’Afrique du Nord, aux vues de Paris et de Passy et à ses portraits émouvants, l’exposition révèle l’ampleur du talent à l’artiste.
Du 19 au 30 mai
Mairie du 16e
71 avenue Henri Martin
métro Rue de la Pompe

An Association of the Friends of the painter Adolphe Gumery was formed in 1999, based at 56 Rue de Passy. Their website is at and gives a detailed biography of his life.


A mon grand-père Adolphe GUMERY

Hommage de sa petite fille….de 85 ans

Puisqu’à l’âge d’être grand-mère
On redevient petit enfant,
Je te retrouve, cher grand-père,
Avec bonheur, tout comme avant…

Qui dira la joie des histoires
Que pour moi tu imaginais,
Et les preuves de mon savoir
Qu’à grands cris je te révélais ?…

Oh !jours heureux, vous êtes là,
Tandis que la mort se rapproche,
Que,plus âgée que toi, déjà,
A ton souvenir je m’accroche !

Je me vois dans les champs tout rouges
Des coquelicots d’autrefois,
Il me semble encore qu’ils bougent
Sur la toile, là, devant moi !

Prenant les pinceaux, tes couleurs,
Au vieil atelier de jadis,
Tu peins peut-être quelques fleurs
Et, comme alors, tu me souris…

L’eau miroitant dans le lavoir,
Près du vieux pont, sous la verdure,
A le reflet, sans le savoir,
De ce regard si plein d’amour
Que tu posais sur toute chose…

Grâce à ces tableaux, sur le mur,
La vie me semble moins morose,
Je sais que tu es là, toujours !

Paris, 5 avril 2004
Viviane  Morel - Izambard

Adolphe Gumery in his studio, 1935

Adolphe Gumery in his studio, 1935

Achille Gumery

Achille Gumery, the son of Adolphe Ernest Gumery, born 1 June 1889 in Paris and died 30 September 1914 in Saint Thierry, killed in action in World War One. He had begun a career in decorating, and also painted but died too young to have painted any recognised works.

Gumery tombstone at Montmartre, photographed by Gérald Krafft

Gumery tombstone at Montmartre, photographed by Gérald Krafft

Gumery family tomb in Montmartre cemetery, Paris

The bust on top of the gravestone at Montmartre cemetery is of Charles Alphonse Gumery done by his pupil, the sculptor Jean Gautherin.

If you have any further information of this family please email me as I would be very interested to learn more.

My thanks to Viviane Morel-Izambard for her help in getting all the facts correct.
Also many thanks to Dennis Stoker and Angela Snell for their help.
Dictionaire de Biographie Française, 1986.
Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, E. Bénézit.
Photos of the Gumery statues L'Harmonie, La Poesie and La Nuit in Paris, taken by C&A Buholzer, October 2006  - used with their permission.
Michelin Tourist Guide - Paris. for the location and dates of Gumerys statues.
Article on Adolphe E. Gumery sent by Dr. Dennis Stoker, of unknown origin, thanks to Caroline & Andre for the translation. for the list of paintings by Adolphe Ernest Gumery.
Wikipedia - Illustrated Biography of Adolphe Gumery by Gerald Krafft.
Detailed Biography of Adolphe Gumery, Association of the Friends of the Painter Adolphe Gumery at
Self Portrait of Adolphe Ernest Gumery from Wikipedia, copyright free.
Family visit to Chartreuse de Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1912 from Wikipedia, copyright free.
The Poem "A mon grand-père Adolphe Gumery (1861-1943)" used with permission of the author Viviane Morel-Izambard, September 2006.
Close-up of the family tombstone at Montmartre Cemetery from Wikipedia, copyright free, photographed by Gérald Krafft.
Last revised: 9 November 2006
© Linda Hansen 2006