Jean-François Millet

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Jean-François Millet (October 4, 1814 – January 20, 1875) was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers; he can be categorized as part of the naturalism and realism movements.


Life and work


Millet was the first child of Jean-Louis-Nicolas and Aimée-Henriette-Adélaïde Henry Millet, members of the peasant community in the village of Gruchy, in Gréville-Hague (Normandy).[1] Under the guidance of two village priests, Millet acquired a knowledge of Latin and modern authors, before being sent to Cherbourg in 1833 to study with a portrait painter named Paul Dumouchel. By 1835 he was studying full-time with Lucien-Théophile Langlois, a pupil of Baron Gros, in Cherbourg. A stipend provided by Langlois and others enabled Millet to move to Paris in 1837, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts with Paul Delaroche. In 1839 his scholarship was terminated, and his first submission to the Salon was rejected.[1]


After his first painting, a portrait, was accepted at the Salon of 1840, Millet returned to Cherbourg to begin a career as a portrait painter. However, the following year he married Pauline-Virginie Ono, and they moved to Paris. After rejections at the Salon of 1843 and Pauline's death by consumption, Millet returned again to Cherbourg.[1] In 1845 Millet moved to Le Havre with Catherine Lemaire, whom he would marry in a civil ceremony in 1853; they would have nine children, and remain together for the rest of Millet's life.[2] In Le Havre he painted portraits and small genre pieces for several months, before moving back to Paris.

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