Jean-Francois Millet

Jean-Francois Millet sawyers 1852
sawyers 1852

Jean-Francois Millet was a French artist of the 19th century, a master of portrait, domestic and landscape genres. Many of Millet’s paintings are rightfully considered examples of the critical realism of European art of that time. Jean-Francois Millet took part in the creation of the Barbizon school, he was able to brilliantly depict the life of the peasants and the nature around them on canvas without falsehood and gloss.

Jean-Francois Millet is also known as the author of engravings on folk themes, made using the etching technique. Unlike most other artists, the famous Barbizon did not like to paint from nature. Millet used a different approach he made many sketches while walking, and later, in the studio, restored what he saw in the smallest detail on canvas from memory.

Jean-Francois Millet Way to work 1853
Way to work 1853

Biography of Jean-Francois Millet

Jean-Francois Millet was born on October 4, 1814 in a Norman village in northwestern France to a wealthy rural family. The boy early showed remarkable abilities in painting and expressed a desire to learn to draw. Parents supported the son’s aspirations and at the age of 20, young Jean-Francois moved to Cherbourg to start studying with local little-known artists.

After 3 years, Millet went to Paris, where he continued his studies in the studio of Paul Delaroche (Paul Delaroche). At an early stage of his work, Jean-Francois worked mainly in the portrait genre and struggled to make ends meet. The artist’s first marriage ended in tragedy. His 23-year-old wife died of tuberculosis in 1844. This sad event had a strong influence on the young painter. He briefly leaves Paris for the provincial Cherbourg, where he meets his second wife Catherine. This marriage will be happy, in which Jean-Francois will have 9 children.

Jean-Francois Millet Reapers on vacation 1853
Reapers on vacation 1853

Peasant theme

The transition of the artist to a new genre in creativity was also successful the theme of peasant life. In 1848 there was a revolution in France. The tastes of society have changed dramatically, paintings depicting the life of ordinary people have gained great popularity. Millet’s popularity is growing, but at this time a cholera epidemic begins in Paris and he decides to leave for Barbizon to join the colony of artists. In a small village near the French capital, the master lived until his death.

Jean-Francois Millet Farm in Greville 1854
Farm in Greville 1854

Here, around Théodore Rousseau, the Barbizon school of painting is gradually being formed an association of landscape painters. But Jean-Francois Millet initially gravitates more towards the everyday genre. Despite numerous criticisms, the artist stubbornly paints pictures with images of ordinary villagers. Real glory comes to the master only in 1867 after receiving the gold medal of the Paris World Exhibition.

In the last years of his life, Jean-Francois Millet, under the influence of his Barbizon friends, tries his hand at landscape painting. His paintings are filled with love for nature and bright juicy strokes, and critics treat his works very favorably. On January 20, 1875, 60-year-old Jean-Francois Millet died after a long illness in Barbizon. He was buried next to his friend Theodore Rousseau at the edge of the village of Schally. And in the house where the great master worked for more than 20 years, now there is a museum of the artist.

Jean-Francois Millet woman baking bread
woman baking bread
Farm in Greville 1855
Farm in Greville 1855
Peasant spreading manure
Peasant spreading manure
Jean-Francois Millet Shepherdess Seated on a Rock
Shepherdess Seated on a Rock
Jean-Francois Millet Gatherers of ears 1857
Gatherers of ears 1857
Jean-Francois Millet Shepherdess knitting
Shepherdess knitting
woman with a rake
woman with a rake
Sick child 1858
Sick child 1858
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