Jean-Francois Millet

(1814 - 1875)
Jean-Francois Millet A Shepherdess Unknown

Biography

Born into a prosperous peasant family, Millet enjoyed a good education before being apprenticed to a painter in Cherbourg in 1833. In 1837 he was sent to Paris, and entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts as the pupil of the famous history painter Paul Delaroche (1797-1856). Dissatisfied with academic painting, Millet developed his own style, focusing on countryside scenes and rural labourers. Millet’s art was rooted in the Normandy of his childhood. Although he was associated with the Barbizon School painters, he concentrated more on figures than landscape painting. His rural scenes are often classically composed and bathed in a nostalgic golden light. Despite his often idealised view of the peasantry, Millet’s pictures contain a wealth of realistic detail.

Glossary terms

  • A group of Dutch, realist painters working in The Hague in the second half of the nineteenth century, painting in subdued colours to convey the atmosphere and impression of moment in their works. Members included Anton Mauve, Johannes Bosboom, Joseph Israels, Jacob Maris, and his brothers Matthijs and Willem.