Jean-François Millet

The Norman Milkmaid in Gréville, 1874

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About the Artist

Jean-Francois Millet (born Oct. 4, 1814, Gruchy, France — died Jan. 20, 1875, Barbizon) was a French painter. Born to a peasant family, he studied with a painter in Paris, but when one of his two submissions to the Salon was rejected (1840), he returned to Cherbourg, where initially he painted mostly portraits. His first success came with The Milkmaid (1844), and in 1848 another peasant scene, The Winnower, was shown at the Salon. In 1849 he settled in the village of Barbizon. Because he continued to exhibit peasant scenes that emphasized the labours of rustic life, he was accused of being a socialist, but his aims were not political. His Angelus (1859) became one of the most popular paintings of the 19th century. In his later life he was linked with the Barbizon school.