Sunday, September 11, 2022

Jean-François Millet

French artist Jean-François Millet (4 October 1814 – 20 January 1875) was a prominent painter during the 19th-century Realist movement and one of the founders of the Barbizon school, which rejected the ideals of Romanticism. While most artists of the Barbizon school concentrated on landscapes painted en plein air, Millet preferred to depict the life of ceaseless toil required of the peasant class, a social stratum for which he had great respect.

Born into a farming family in northern France, Millet was initially trained as a portrait painter. His parents, religious and patriarchal, saw to it that he received a good education, which gave him a knowledge of Latin and a lifelong interest in literature. Having shown early signs of talent, the youth was sent to Cherbourg in 1833 to work with a local portrait painter, Bon Dumouchel (1807-1846). After moving to Paris in 1837, he was introduced to other artists interested in depicting peasant and rural subjects.

His first Salon submission, in 1839, but his second, a portrait, was accepted in 1840. After his first portrait was accepted Millet returned to Cherbourg, where he remained during most of 1841, painting portraits.

He later moved to Barbizon, a rural French town, with his family. By the mid-1860s, Millet’s work was beginning to be in demand. His work was influenced by Dutch paintings of the 17th century and by the work of Jean-Siméon Chardin, and was influential in Holland on Jozef Israëls and on the early style of Vincent Van Gogh. Official recognition came in 1868, after nine major paintings had been shown at the exposition of 1867.

In 1875, three weeks before his death, Millet married his wife in a religious ceremony. They had been married in a civil ceremony in 1853.
Jean-François Millet

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