The singer and songwriter Aristide Bruant (1851–1925), who performed first at the Chat Noir, and later at his own cabaret Le Mirliton, was the quintessential Montmartre artist. Bruant grew up comfortably in a small village not far from Paris, but when his family fell on difficult times, he was forced to move to Paris to seek employment. Working as a railroad clerk by day, Bruant spent his evenings immersed in the unruly atmosphere of Montmartre, studying the rough vernacular and attitudes of the lower classes. His verses, written in the language of the street, recounted the struggles of those down on their luck. Frequently, Bruant rained insults on his increasingly bourgeois audience, who ironically seemed to revel in the “authentic” working-class experience of Montmartre that Bruant provided.
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