Jean Francois Millet Biography | Oil Paintings
October 4-1814 Gréville-Hague, FRA - 1-20-1875 Barbizon, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Jean-Francois Millet was born near the city of Cherbourg, which granted him a scholarship to train in Paris, under Paul Delaroche. His early paintings were portraits or pastoral idylls, but by the 1840s he was producing more naturalistic scenes of the countryside. These drew on his own experience since he came from peasant stock, but the paintings disturbed some critics, because of their unglamorous view of rustic life.
In the 1850s Jean-Francois Millet's work attracted genuine hostility. In part, this was due to fears that his paintings were political, memories of the 1848 Revolution were still fresh, and the authorities were nervous about any images with socialist overtones. Jean-François Millet declined to express his political views, but The Gleaners, for example, was a compelling portrait of rural poverty. Some critics also likened his work with the Realist movement, launched by Gustave Courbet, which was seen as an attack on the academic establishment.
Jean Millet Painting the Noble Poor Person.
In Jean-Francois Millet's The Angelus was reproduced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Salvador Dalí was so fascinated by this artwork that he wrote an analysis of it, The Tragic Myth of The Angelus of Millet. Dalí was of the opinion that the two figures were praying over their buried child, rather than to the just Praying the Angelus. Dalí was so unshakable on this fact that he demanded an X-ray be done of the canvas, and confirming what he believed all along, the painting indeed contains a painted-over geometric shape like a pine box coffin.
After 1849, Jean-François Millet was mainly based in Barbizon, where he befriended Theodore Rousseau and other members of the Barbizon School. Under their influence, he devoted the latter part of his career to landscape painting.
Millet's most characteristic large paintings of peasants date from the 1850's. In his painting The Gleaners, the workers in the field are exalted by a composition that turns them into heroic protagonists, bathed in a solemn and sacred atmosphere. In this famous painting, the depth of the horizon and the quiet hours in the fields confer Romantic nobility on the backbreaking labor of the poor gleaners. A gleaner gathers grain left behind in a field after harvest, basically scraps.
The mystic Jean-Francois Millet was an important source of inspiration for Vincent van Gogh, particularly during his early period. Millet and his work are mentioned many times in Vincent's letters to his brother Theo. Van Gogh copied, in his distinctive painting style, The Sower, that had been painted by Millet also as The Sower. Jean-François Millet's late landscapes would serve as influential reference points for Claude Monet's paintings of the Normandy coast, his structural and symbolic content influenced Georges Seurat as well.
Art Movement History: Barbizon School, Naturalism, Realism
Artists Influencing Jean Millet: Gustave Courbet, Paul Delaroche, the Le Nain Brothers
Painters Jean-Francois Millet Influenced: Robert Mols, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.