(1814 - 1875)
Jean-Francois Millet was active/lived in France. Jean Francois Millet is known for bucolic-scene painting, rural peasant genre.
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Jean Francois Millet was what Gustave Courbet pretended to be: the son
of peasants. Born in 1814, at Gruchy near Cherbourg, he spent most of
his life in rural France. He received his first instruction in
art from Langlois at Cherbourg in 1832. His aptitude was so
obvious that he was granted a pension by the Municipal Council to
enable him to study art in Paris. In 1837, he joined the Parisian
studio of Delaroche where Diaz and Rousseau were his fellow
pupils. He first exhibited at the Salon in 1840. He was
able to perceive the land and the labor it exacted from men as
substance and process, not as a sight for city-dwelling impressionists
on an outing. For some time he earned a living painting portraits
in Cherbourg where he had returned. In 1845 he was in Paris once
more; he devoted himself entirely to peasant and figure painting, at
which he worked solely from memory.
Biography from Modern Art Dealers
Though he lived to see
himself the most famous of the painters who worked at Barbizon, during
much of his life he was on the verge of poverty. There were times
when Millet and his wife had nothing to eat, but they did make sure
that their children did not suffer. As a result of his privation
he was subject all his life to fearful headaches and pains in his
eyes. But he never complained.
Yet Millet painted one of
the most popular pictures of the 19th century. Even his most
famous canvas he had difficulty selling, but once sold, its rise in
value was fantastic. But Millet's faults were made especially
conspicuous by the trends of more modern painting. He was a
powerful draftsman, but he was indifferent to color; he was a touching
poet, but he often became sentimental; he was an admirable
humanitarian, but he rarely conveyed his feelings with any charm or
beauty of brushwork. Consequently his canvases sank in critical
esteem to a point below their real worth. He died at Barbizon
surrounded by the life and people he had loved.
Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California
Robert Hughes in Time Magazine, February 23, 1976
Masterpieces of Art: Catalogue of the New York World's Fair 1940
Jean-François Millet was the son of Normandy farmers and began studying painting in Cherbourg, France In 1838, with the aid of a scholarship, he moved to Paris and became briefly, a pupil of Paul Delaroche, but soon decided that he preferred to work alone. He made frequent visits to the Louvre Museum, where he was particularly influenced by Buonarroti Michelangelo, Gaspard Poussin and Peter Paul Rubens. In order to earn a living he painted shop signs and numerous portraits.
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In the 1840s, Millet spent most of his time in Cherbourg, and after the death of his first wife in 1844, he spent a year in Le Havre where he exhibited with some success.
In 1849, he was persuaded by Charles-Emile Jacque to settle with his new family in Barbizon and discovered the green landscapes of this region where Rousseau and Diaz were already living. Unlike the other Barbizon painters he was principally inspired by the occupations rather than the scenery of rural life and the daily toil of the peasants became his preferred subject.
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