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Jean Francois Millet   By: (1863-1924)

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JEAN FRANÇOIS MILLET

A Collection of Fifteen Pictures and a Portrait of the Painter, with Introduction and Interpretation

by

ESTELLE M. HURLL

The Riverside Art Series

1900

[Illustration: JEAN FRANÇOIS MILLET]

PREFACE

In making a selection of Millet's pictures, devoted as they are to the single theme of French peasant life, variety of subject can be obtained only by showing as many phases of that life as possible. Our illustrations therefore represent both men and women working separately in the tasks peculiar to each, and working together in the labors shared between them. There are in addition a few pictures of child life.

The selections include a study of the field, the dooryard, and the home interior, and range from the happiest to the most sombre subjects. They show also considerable variety in artistic motive and composition, and taken together fairly represent the scope of Millet's work.

ESTELLE M. HURLL. NEW BEDFORD, MASS. March, 1900.

CONTENTS AND LIST OF PICTURES

PORTRAIT OF MILLET. DRAWN BY HIMSELF

INTRODUCTION

I. ON MILLET'S CHARACTER AS AN ARTIST

II. ON BOOKS OF REFERENCE

III. HISTORICAL DIRECTORY OF THE PICTURES OF THIS COLLECTION

IV. OUTLINE TABLE OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN MILLET'S LIFE

V. SOME OF MILLET'S ASSOCIATES

I. GOING TO WORK

II. THE KNITTING LESSON

III. THE POTATO PLANTERS

IV. THE WOMAN SEWING BY LAMPLIGHT

V. THE SHEPHERDESS

VI. THE WOMAN FEEDING HENS

VII. THE ANGELUS

VIII. FILLING THE WATER BOTTLES

IX. FEEDING HER BIRDS

X. THE CHURCH AT GRÉVILLE

XI. THE SOWER

XII. THE GLEANERS

XIII. THE MILKMAID

XIV. THE WOMAN CHURNING

XV. THE MAN WITH THE HOE

XVI. THE PORTRAIT OF MILLET

PRONOUNCING VOCABULARY OF PROPER NAMES AND FOREIGN WORDS

NOTE: All the pictures were made from carbon prints by Braun, Clément & Co.

INTRODUCTION

I. ON MILLET'S CHARACTER AS AN ARTIST

The distinctive features of Millet's art are so marked that the most inexperienced observer easily identifies his work. As a painter of rustic subjects, he is unlike any other artists who have entered the same field, even those who have taken his own themes. We get at the heart of the matter when we say that Millet derived his art directly from nature. "If I could only do what I like," he said, "I would paint nothing that was not the result of an impression directly received from nature, whether in landscape or in figure." His pictures are convincing evidence that he acted upon this theory. They have a peculiar quality of genuineness beside which all other rustic art seems forced and artificial.

The human side of life touched him most deeply, and in many of his earlier pictures, landscape was secondary. Gradually he grew into the larger conception of a perfect harmony between man and his environment. Henceforth landscape ceased to be a mere setting or background in a figure picture, and became an organic part of the composition. As a critic once wrote of the Shepherdess, "the earth and sky, the scene and the actors, all answer one another, all hold together, belong together." The description applies equally well to many other pictures and particularly to the Angelus, the Sower, and the Gleaners. In all these, landscape and figure are interdependent, fitting together in a perfect unity.

As a painter of landscapes, Millet mastered a wide range of the effects of changing light during different hours of the day. The mists of early morning in Filling the Water Bottles; the glare of noonday in the Gleaners; the sunset glow in the Angelus and the Shepherdess; the sombre twilight of the Sower; and the glimmering lamplight of the Woman Sewing, each found perfect interpretation. Though showing himself capable of representing powerfully the more violent aspects of nature, he preferred as a rule the normal and quiet.

In figure painting Millet sought neither grace nor beauty, but expression. That he regarded neither of these first two qualities as intrinsically unworthy, we may infer from the grace of the Sower, and the naïve beauty of the Shepherdess and the Woman Sewing... Continue reading book >>




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