Happy Birthday to Realist Jean-François Millet, Painter of Peasants
In the collection of European Painting and Sculpture at LACMA.
Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch Collection (M.44.5.1)
Renowned for his Realist subject matter, Jean-Francois Millet was moved by social injustice to paint peasants and agricultural laborers, capturing both the poverty and dignity of rural French life. “The human side of art is what touches me most,” he once said. Though the artist was considered a socialist revolutionary by much of the establishment, Millet’s painting The Winnower (1848), praised by one critic as possessing “everything it takes to horrify the bourgeois,” sold at the Paris Salon in 1848. In 1849, Millet moved to Barbizon, where he painted many of his most famous works, and, with Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, and others, founded the Barbizon School of landscape painters. In one of his most famous works, The Gleaners (1857), women and children bathed in Millet’s characteristic soft, golden light (meant to convey the sanctity of their relationship to the land) collect grain from the fields after harvest.
French, 1814-1875, Gruchy, France, based in Barbizon, France