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Jean-François Millet

Born: Gruchy, Normandy, 4 October 1814
Died: Barbizon, 20 January 1875
Nationality: French

rural upbringing; Millet drawing of His Childhood Home (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)


with portrait painter Bon Du Mouchel; with Lucien-Theophile Langlois (Cherbourg); with Paul Delaroche (Paris)


1839 – competes unsuccessfully for Prix de Rome

1840 –Paris Salon debut; returns to Cherbourg for one year

1848 – meets Barbizon artists, especially friendly with Théodore Rousseau

1849 – moves to Barbizon

1850 – exhibits The Sower at Paris Salon

1867 – retrospective exhibition at Exposition universelle (Paris)

1868 – awarded Légion d’honneur

1870 – final Salon exhibition

1889 –The Angleus purchased for record breaking  580,650 francs and tours the US

Commissions from: 

Thomas Gold Appleton; Frédéric Hartmann

Important Artworks: 

Self-Portrait, c. 1840 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Harvesters Resting (Ruth and Boaz), 1850-53 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Starry Night, 1851 (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven)

The Gleaners, 1857 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris)

The Angleus, 1857-59 (Musée d’Orsay)



The contemporary British Naturalist painter George Clausen (1852-1944) commented on Millet:

“With Millet the subject and type were everything – the individual nothing. He was passionately moved by his subject, and once its action and sentiment were expressed, everything was subordinated to them. He cared nothing for the smaller truths of detail provided the general impression were true to his mental image, and his aim was avowedly to impose his mental impression on the spectator.”

George Clausen, “Jules Bastien-Lepage as Artist," Jules Bastien-Lepage and His Art. A Memoir, André Theuriet (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1892), 116. 

Web Resources

Metmuseum: Barbizon painting