Jean-Francois Millet

Peasants in a Field, n.d.
Cliche-verre print , 22.75 x 19 in
Denver Art Museum Collections, Gift of John and Jean Ritzenthaler

Jean-Francois Millet was the son of a peasant farmer in Normandy, France, and was one of the primary artists of the Barbizon movement.  He began to study art in Paris in 1838 under Paul Delaroche and was highly influenced by the mythological works of 17th century artists like Nicolas Poussin, Painting en plein air within the landscape brought out his “realist” style, for which he is most widely known.

In Peasants in a Field, the couple walks across the field casually yet with a sense of nobility at the beginning of their day’s work. These qualities are similarly exemplified by the figures in Les Becheurs (elsewhere in this display) through their triangular pose, a Classical motif typically used by artists to imbue pictures with a sense of strength and stability.  The life of a 19th century French peasant was tied very closely to the fields. Here, Millet places the figures within their natural context to provide a glimpse of their hard but dignified lives.

For information about the University of Denver’s “Changing Landscapes” exhibition click here.

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