Jean-François Millet

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photograph of Jean-François Millet by French photographer Félix Nadar

Francois 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 like in his well-known painting The Gleaners.

Quotes of Millet[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Millet

Quotes, 1835 - 1850[edit]

Millet, c. 1840: 'Young Leconte de Lisle', oil-painting on canvas - current location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
Millet, 1845-46: Self-Portrait' - drawing in charcoal and black chalk
Millet, c. 1847: 'A Young Man Seated, Bent over a Reclining Figure', drawing in red chalk with stumping on laid paper; current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Millet, c. 1850: 'Portrait de Paul François Collot', oil-painting on canvas
Millet, 1850: 'The Sower', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.
Millet, 1850: 'Trussing Hay', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Louvre Museum in Paris
Millet, c. 1850: 'Breaking Flax', oil-painting on canvas; location Walters Art Museum, Baltimore U.S.
  • What do I care? 'I don't come here [studying with the Paris' artist & teacher Paul Delaroche [1] to please anybody. I come because there are antiques and models to teach me, that is all. Do I object to your figures, made of butter and honey [to Alfred Boisseau]?
    • Quote of Millet, c. 1839; as quoted by biographer fr:Alfred_Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, transl. Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 54
    • Boisseau criticized Millet on making his own plan; he was one of the master's pets of art-teacher Paul Delaroche in Paris, that time
  • He [Alfred de Musset] puts you into a fever, it is true; but he can do nothing more for you. He has undoubted charms, but his taste is capricious and poisoned. All he can do is to disenchant and corrupt you, and at the end leave you in despair. The fever passes, and you are left without strength - like a convalescent who is in need of fresh air, of the sunshine, and of the stars.
    • a remark to his friend Louis Marolle in Paris, c. 1839; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters [2], Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 60
    • Millet had little sympathy with the French poet Alfred de Musset and criticized the tendencies of his poetry severely.
  • Sir, I have completed the picture ['Les Faneurs / Haymakers', 1849 [3] ] which you were kind enough to order, and have executed it with all possible care and conscientiousness. I ought to send it to the Exhibition, where it could be properly seen and judged. I pray you to be good enough to pay me the balance of 1,100 francs which is still due on this commission. My great need of money obliges me to ask you to let me have it as soon as possible. Accept, sir, the assurance of my pro- found respect - J. F. Millet. 8, Rue du Delta [Paris]
    • Millet's quote in his letter of 30 April 1849, Paris; as quoted by Mr. T. H. Bartlett in Scribner's Magazine, Warner & Co, New York / London, May 1890
    • With the received money Millet could leave Paris - just before the Revolution of 13 June, 1849 - with his wife and kids, because of the outburst of cholera. He went with his friend, the printer Charles Jaque, to Barbizon where Millet would stay for the rest of his life
  • My dear Sensier, - I shall be greatly obliged if after reading and sealing the enclosed letter, you will take it to Rue du Delta, No. 8. [Paris].. .. Jaque [common friend and painter] and I have settled to stay here [ Barbizon ] for some time, and have accordingly each of us taken rooms. The prices are excessively low compared to those in Paris; and as it is easy to get to town if necessary, and the country is superbly beautiful, we hope to work more quietly here, and perhaps do better things. In fact, we intend to spend some time here.. .I wish you good-bye, with many hearty embraces. Jacque sends you warm remembrances, and will answer your letter tomorrow.
    • Quote from Millet's first letter to fr:Alfred_Sensier, from Barbizon, 28 June 1849; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 95
  • To tell the truth, peasant subjects suit my nature best, for I must confess, at the risk of your taking me to be a Socialist, that the human side is what touches me most in art.. .The joyous side never shows itself to me ; I know not if it exists, but I have never seen it. The gayest thing I know is the calm, the silence, which are so delicious, both in the forest and in the cultivated fields, whether the soil is good for culture or not. You will confess that it always gives you a very dreamy sensation, and that the dream is a sad one, although often very delicious.
    • In his letter to fr:Alfred_Sensier, Barbizon, February 1850; as quoted in Prints & drawings Europe 1500–1900 - catalogue for the exhibition 'European prints & drawings: 1500 - 1900', ed. Peter Raissis; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 2014, pp. 136-137
  • I work like a gang of slaves; the day seems five months long. My wish to make a winter landscape has become a fixed idea. I want to do a sheep picture and have all sorts of projects in my head. If you could see how beautiful the forest is! I rush there at the end of the day, after my work, and I come back every time crushed. It is so calm, such a terrible grandeur, that I find myself really frightened. I don't know what those fellows, the trees, are saying to each other.. ..we don't know their language, that is all; but I am quite sure of this - they do not make puns!.. ..Send [me] 3 burnt sienna, 2 raw ditto, 3 Naples's yellow, 1 burnt Italian earth, 2 yellow ocher, 2 burnt umber, 1 bottle of raw oil.
    • Quote of Millet. in his letter from Barbizon, c. 1850 to fr:Alfred_Sensier in Paris; as quoted by Arthur Hoeber in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty [4] – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. 38
    • In 1850 Millet entered into an arrangement with Alfred Sensier, who provided him with materials and money in return for drawings and paintings (source: Murphy, Alexandra R. Jean-François Millet. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1984, p. xix), see: Wikipedia, Millet

Quotes, 1851 - 1870[edit]

Millet, 1853: 'The Carder', crayon drawing on paper; location: Saint Louis Art Museum
Millet, 1856: 'Shepherdess Seated on a Rock', oil-painting on wood - current location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Millet, 1856: a study for his painting 'the Gleaners / Les Glaneuses', drawing in black crayon on paper
Millet, 1856-57: 'The Gleaners', oil-painting on canvas - 'The Gleaners' has become one of Millet's most famous paintings
Millet, 1857-1859: 'Angelus', oil-painting on canvas - 'Angelus' has become one of Millet's most famous paintings
Millet, 1860's: 'Shepherdess', pastel on plywood. Location: National Museum in Warsaw
Millet, 1863: 'Digger', print - woodcut in brown ink on laid paper; second (final) state
  • [Theophile] Gautier's article is very good. I begin to feel a little more contented. His remarks about my thick colours are also very just. The critics who see and judge my pictures are not forced to know that in painting them I am not guided by a definite intention, although I do my utmost to try and attain the aim which I have in sight, independently of methods. People are not even obliged to know why it is that I work in this way, with all its faults.
    • Quote of Millet in his letter of 23 March 1851; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 112
    • the most famous painting of Millet 'The Sower', reviewed in an article then by Gautier, was exhibited for the first time in 'The Salon' of Paris, at the End of 1850
  • You are sitting under the trees, feeling all the ease, all the tranquility that can possibly be enjoyed; you see some poor figure laden with a faggot come turning out of some little path. The unexpected and always striking way in which this figure appears to you carries your mind instantly to the sadness of human life.. .In tilled lands you see these figures digging and delving. From time to time you see one straighten his loins and wipe his forehead with the back of his hand. Is this the gay frolicsome work in which some people would have us believe? Yet here for me is the real humanity, the great poetry.
    • Quote from his letter, 1851; as quoted in Millet, by Romain Rolland, - translated from the French text of M. Romain Rolland by Miss Clementina Black; published: London, Duchworth & Co / New York, E. P. Dutton & Co, p. 11+12
  • My dear Rousseau, I do not know if the two sketches which I enclose will be of any use to you. I merely wish to show you where I would place the figures in your picture, that is all. You know better than I do what is best, and what you wish to do. These last few days we have had some effects of hoarfrost, which I am not going to try and describe, feeling how useless this would be! I will content myself with saying that God alone can ever have seen such marvelously fairy-like scenes. I only wish that you could have been here to see them. Have you finished your pictures? Because you have only a month more in which to finish your 'Forest' [5], and it is very important indeed that this picture should be in the Salon. In fact, it must absolutely be there.. .Good-bye, my dear Rousseau, and accept a whole pile of cordial good wishes.
    • Quote in Millet's letter to Théodore Rousseau, from Barbizon early Spring 1853; as quoted in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Julia Cartwright; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 137
    • Millet wrote Rousseau who was staying in Paris, and urged him to complete his 'Forest' painting in time for the Paris' Salon, held in the Summer of 1853. Millet sent him included two sketches on paper as pictorial help and advice for the composition of Rousseau's painting.
  • Barbizon Thursday, My dear [Alfred] Sensier: M. Letrone, whom I do not know.. ..came yesterday [to the house of Millet in Barbizon], and bought my 'Women Putting Bread in the Oven', [6] for 800 francs, and another little picture which I am to make from a sketch which he has seen for 400 francs. This gentleman has a son who has been, and, for all I know, may be still, a pupil of Rousseau. I am working, in spite of frequent interruptions, at my picture of 'A Woman Sewing by the Light of a Lamp' for the Dutchman [a buyer who ordered the painting]. It is already in a forward state, but trivial matters disturb me too often.
    • Quote In his letter of 19 January 1854 from Barbizon, to fr:Alfred_Sensier; as quoted in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Julia Cartwright; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 124-125
  • They [the Paris art-critics] wish to force me into their drawing-room art, to break my spirit. No, no! I was born as a peasant and a peasant I will die. I say what I feel. I paint things as I see them, and I will hold my ground without retreating one sabot; if necessary, I will fight for honour.
    • Quote from his letter, March 1859; as quoted by Arthur Hoeber in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. 53
    • his now famous picture 'Death and the Woodcutter', had been rejected at the Salon, and the important and conservative journal 'Gazette des Beaux Arts' was most indignant. The well known Hedouin engraved this work.

Quotes, 1870 - 1875[edit]

Millet, 1871: 'A Norman Milkmaid at Gréville', oil-painting on cardboard
Millet, c. 1872: 'The sheepfold, moonlight / Le parc à moutons, clair de lune', location Musée d'Orsay
Millet, 1874 'Sheep in front of haystacks', 1874 - late painting of Millet. Beyond the haystacks it shows the plain of Chailly and the rooftops of Barbizon. Location art-work: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • I remember being awakened one morning by voices in the room where I slept. There was a whizzing sound which made itself heard between the voices now and then. It was the sound of spinning-wheels, and the voices were those of women spinning and carding wool. The dust of the room danced in a ray of sunshine which shone through the high narrow window that lighted the room..
    • Quote, c. 1870; as cited by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 12
    • taken from Millet's youth-memories, he wrote down on request of his friend and later biographer Alfred Sensier, https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Sensier]
  • In the morning we saw that the sea was rough, and people said there would be trouble.. ..Fifty men volunteered to go at once, and followed the old sailor without a word. We descended the cliffs to the beach, and there we saw a terrible sight : several vessels rushing, one after the other, at fearful speed, upon our rocks. Our men put three boats out to sea, but before they had rowed ten strokes one boat sank, another was upset by a huge breaker, while a third was thrown upon the beach.. ..The sea threw up hundreds of corpses, as well as quantities of cargo.. .Then came a fourth, fifth and sixth vessel, all of which were lost with their crew and cargo alike, upon the rocks. The tempest was furious.. .The next morning.. ..As I was passing by a hollow in the cliff, I saw a large sail spread, as I thought, over a bale of merchandise. I lifted the sail and saw a heap of corpses. I was so frightened that I ran home, and found my mother and grandmother on their knees, praying for the shipwrecked sailors.
    • Quote c. 1870; cited by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 22
    • taken from Millet's youth-memories, about the years he lived as an boy close to the wild coast of Normandy, written down on request of his friend and later biographer Alfred Sensier

Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, 1881[edit]

Quotes from: Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, by fr:Alfred_Sensier; translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881
  • I came to Paris with all my ideas of art fixed, and I have never found it necessary to change them. I have been more or less in love with this master, or that method in art, but I have not modified any fundamental opinions. You have seen my first drawing, made at home without a master, without a model, without a guide. I have never done anything different since. You have never seen me paint except in a low tone; demi-teinte [half-tone] is necessary to me in order to sharpen my eyes and clear my thoughts, - it has been my best teacher.
    • p. 44
    • Millet is describing his development as artist to his friend and later biographer fr:Alfred_Sensier
  • For the first [his very first time in Paris], I went to a little hotel, where I spent the night in a sort of nightmare, in which I saw my home, full of melancholy, with my mother, grandmother, and sister spinning in the evening, weeping and thinking of me, praying that I should escape the perdition of Paris. Then the evil demon drove me on before wonderful pictures, which seemed so beautiful, so brilliant, that it appeared to me they took fire and vanished in a heavenly cloud.. .Finally, without knowing how, I found myself [during one of his his first days in Paris] on the Pont Neuf, from which I saw a magnificent building which I thought must be the Louvre, from the descriptions I had heard of it. I went to it, and mounted the great stairway with a beating heart. At last one great object of my life was attained. I had imagined correctly what I should see. It seemed to me that I was in a world of friends [the paintings of the old masters], in a family where all that I beheld was the reality of my dreams.
    • p. 46-49
  • One day, however, I spent the whole day in front of the 'Concert Champetre' [7] of Giorgione [in the Louvre museum, during his early Paris' years]. I could not weary of it. It was already three o'clock when, mechanically, I took a little canvas belonging to a friend, and began a sketch of the picture. Four o'clock sounded, and the dreadful 'ferme' [closing-time] of the guardians turned me out: but I had made enough of a sketch to give me pleasure, like a run into the country. Giorgione had opened the country to me. I had found consolation with him.
    • p. 52
    • about 'finding back' the country during his Paris' years; the country became his main motive and focus for his art, till his death

Quotes about Millet[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Millet
Jean-Baptise Millet (his brother!), 1874: 'La grande bergère assise' - this engraving Jean-Baptise made after a work of his brother Jean-François Millet. Its strong contour line became in 1882 an inspiration for Vincent van Gogh's 'Sorrow
after Millet, 1882: 'Sorrow', drawing after Millet by Vincent van Gogh, he created 10 April 1882, in The Hague
Vincent van Gogh, Sept. 1989: 'Peasant woman binding sheaves (after Millet)', oil on canvas; current location: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Vincent Van Gogh, 1890: 'Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet)', oil-painting on canvas; location: Musée d'Orsay
  • My poor Francois, I see well that thou tormentest thyself with this idea. I would gladly have sent thee to learn this profession of a painter, but I could not, for thou art the eldest of my boys, and I had too much need of thee; but now the others are growing up, and I will not hinder thee from learning what thou has so much desire to know. We will soon go to Cherbourg and find out whether you have talent enough to earn your living by this business.
    • Quote of the father of Millet; as quoted by Arthur Hoeber, in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. 7-8
    • so Millet could leave for Cherbourg where he became art-student of Bon Dumouchel and Jérome Langlois, c. 1830
  • I have the honour to beg you to examine three drawings which I have placed in your Council Hall [of Cherbourg]. Those drawings are the unassisted work of my pupil, Francois Millet, of the Commune of Greville, and are the best proof of his decided taste for art, and rare talent.. ..It was at your recommendation that he was placed under my charge. During the last six months his progress has been constant and rapid.. ..In short, he requires the advantages of Paris, if he is to learn historical painting.. ..But, alas! young Millet has no resources,. ..Young Millet would require a sum of at least five or six hundred francs to begin his studies at Paris. - Your devoted servant, Langlois
    • Quote in a letter of fr:Théophile Langlois de Chèvreville, Cherbourg, 19 August 19, 1836; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 37
  • The schooling of [the young] Millet, begun by the good vicar Jean Lebrisseux.. ..He was soon obliged to be a serious help to his father, and to devote all his time to the rough farm-work. He was the eldest of the sons, and in this lay a duty which Francois accepted without regret. He began to work beside his father and the 'hands', to mow, make hay, bind the sheaves, thresh, winnow, spread manure, plow, sow, - in a word, all the work which makes the daily life of the peasant. So he spent years...[ till Millet was c. 18 years old]
    • Quote of fr:Alfred Sensier, in his biography Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter', translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 34
  • Eh! Are you coming here to give us some more of your fine figures ? Are you going to make men and women on your own plan? You know the master [ Delaroche] doesn't like this Caen cookery. - ('What do I care?' answered Millet, according to Sensier's report, 'I don't come here to please anybody. I come because there are antiques and models to teach me, that is all. Do I object to your figures, made of butter and honey'?)
    • Quote of Alfred Boisseau, c 1838; as quoted by fr:Alfred Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 54
    • Boisseau criticized Millet; he was one of the master's pets of art-teacher Paul Delaroche in Paris, that time'
  • When the Exhibition [Salon of the Louvre in Paris, 1840 - his work was rejected] closed he went back to see his Normandy, with the desire to stay and try to get a living at Cherbourg, and be near his family. It was not the first time that he returned. Almost every year he went to breathe his native air and stay some weeks in Gruchy [near the coast of Normandy, with his mother and grandmother, who already thought him a wonder, as the Cherbourg papers had spoken of him. In 1838 and 1840 he made several portraits of his family and friends —his mother and grandmother, who were living with one of his brothers. He made two portraits of his grandmother, one a drawing, life size, characterized by a strong expression of austerity. Millet worked on it with great care, as a labor of love. He wanted, he said, to 'show the soul' of his grandmother.
    • Quote of fr:Alfred Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 60-61
  • At last, here is a new man [Millet], who has the knowledge which I would like to have, and movement, color, expression, too, - here is a painter!
    • Quote of Diaz de la Peña, 1844; as quoted by fr:Alfred Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 62
    • The painter Diaz de la Peña gives his comment when he saw for the first time work of Millet - the painting 'The Riding Lessons' on the Paris' Salon of 1844
  • Patience ! They will come to it gradually ! Rousseau has sold a landscape for five hundred francs; for my part, I have sold a view of Fontainebleau for seventy-five francs. And I am commissioned to ask you for companion sketches to your drawings. And this time, instead of twenty francs, they are to pay you twenty-five! (Millet replied resignedly: 'If I could only sell two drawings a week at that price all would go right!'
    • Diaz to Millet, c. 1845; as quoted by Albert Wolff, 1886, in Notes upon certain masters of the XIX century, - printed not published MDCCCLXXXVI (1886), The Art Age Press, 400 N.Y. (written after the exhibition 'Cent Chefs-d'Oeuvres: the Choice of the French Private Galleries', Petit, Paris / Baschet, New York, 1883, p. 20
    • At Paris Diaz had sold three drawings of his friend Millet for sixty francs and gave the money, but Millet stayed still thoughtful, for he has to think of the morrow.
  • You [Millet, in his letter, from Paris] say you are painting a portrait of St. Jerome ['St. Jerome Tempted by Women',[8], groaning under the temptations which besieged his youth. Ah, dear child, like him reflect and gain the same holy profit. Follow the example of a man of your own profession, and say 'I paint for eternity'. For no reason in the world allow yourself to do wrong. Do not fall in the eyes of God. With St. Jerome, think ever of the trumpet which will call us to the Judgment Seat.. .Let us soon hear from you. We are very anxious to know how you are getting on. We hope well, and embrace you with sincere friendship - Thy grandmother, Louise Jumelin.
    • the grandmother of Millet in her letter of 10 June 1846, from Greville, Normandy; as quoted by Alfred Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, transl. Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 68
  • He [= Theodore Rousseau ] does not carry us away, as Francois Millet, toward the sorrowing epochs of rustic life, to reveal their savage grandeur or gloomy solemnity..
  • 'Every subject is good', he [Millet] said. 'All we have to do is to render it with force and clearness. In art we should have one leading thought, and see that we express it in eloquent language, that we keep it alive in ourselves, and impart it to others as clearly as we stamp a medal. Art is not a pleasure-trip; it is a battle, a mill that grinds. I am no philosopher. I do not pretend to do away with pain, or to find a formula which will make me a Stoic, and indifferent to evil. Suffering is, perhaps, the one thing that gives an artist power to express himself clearly. He spoke in this manner for some time and then stopped, as if afraid of his own words. But we parted, feeling that we understood each other, and had laid the foundations of a lasting friendship.
    • Quote of fr:Alfred Sensier; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, pp. 79-80
    • Alfred Sensier - his faithful friend till Millet's death, and his later biographer - describes here his very first meeting with Millet in Paris, 1847
  • Like every other Parisian, Millet was armed with a gun during the Revolution [of 1848], and had to take his place in the defense of the Assembly and the taking of the barricades of the Rochechouart quarter, where he saw the chief of the insurgents fall. He came back angry and indignant at the slaughters of Paris. He had no military spirit, nor the rage of revolt, and all he saw made his heart bleed. We [Alfred Sensier and Millet] used to go together of an evening to the plain of Montmartre or St. Ouen. The next day I would find [in Millet's studio] impressions of the day before, which he had painted in a few hours. His facility was extraordinary, and he never omitted the telling note or charm of color.
    • quote of fr:Alfred Sensier, in Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publ. Macmillan and Co., London, 1881, p. 77-78
  • M. Millet's 'Reapers' are certainly not handsome; he has not copied them from the Belvedere Apollo. Their noses are flat, their lips thick, their cheek-bones prominent, their clothes coarse and ragged. But in all this we see a secret force, a singular vigour, a rare knowledge of line and action, an intelligent sacrifice of detail, a simplicity of colour which give these rustics a proud and imposing air, and at times recall the statues of Michelangelo. In spite of their poverty and ugliness, they have the majesty of toilers who are in direct contact with Nature.
    • Quote by Theophile Gautier, 1853; as quoted by Julia Cartwright in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 124-125
    • comment of contemporary art-critic Gautier in his 'Salon of 1853', Paris, Summer of 1853
  • M. Millet, it is plain, understands the true poetry of the fields. He loves the peasants whom he represents. In his grave and serious types we read the sympathy which he feels with their lives. In his pictures sowing, reaping, and grafting are all of them sacred actions, which have a beauty and grandeur of their own, together with a touch of Virgilian melancholy.
    • Quote of Theophile Gautier, Summer 1855; as cited in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters, Julia Cartwright; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 138-139
    • the Exposition Universelle, [9] of 1855 was a very special exhibition in Paris (the first!), with great importance for he French artists - modern, as well as classical
  • His subjects were real people who had work to do. If he painted a haystack, it suggested life, animal as well as vegetable, the life of man. His fields were fields in which men and animals worked; where both laid down their lives; where the bones of the animals were ground up to nourish the soil, and the endless turning of the wheel of existence went on..
    • Quote by William M. Hunt, c. 1860; as quoted by Arthur Hoebert, in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. 41-42
    • Hunt told this to his pupils on Boston, c 1860. Hunt studied with Couture in Paris and then came under the influence of Millet, from whom he learned the principles of the Barbizon School
  • [Millet,] an entirely original painter, high-minded and genuinely rustic in nature, who has expressed things about the country and its inhabitants, about their toil, their melancholy, and the nobleness of their labour. He has represented them in a somewhat barbaric fashion, in a manner to which his ideas gave a more expressive force than his hand possessed. The world has been grateful for his intentions; it has recognised in his methods something of the sensibility of a Burns who was a little awkward in expression.. .He stands out as a deep thinker.
    • Quote from Eugène Fromentin, in Maitres d'Autrefois; Belgique – Hollande; Librairie Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Paris, 1877; as quoted by Arthur Hoebert, in The Barbizon Painters – being the story of the Men of thirty – associate of the National Academy of Design; publishers, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York 1915, p. p. 73-74
  • For Millet, the man of the soil represents the whole human family; the laborer gave him the clearest type of our toil and our suffering. The peasant is to him a living being who formulates, more strongly and clearly than any other man, the image, the symbolical figure of humanity. Millet, however, is neither a discouraged nor a sad man. He is a laborer who loves his field-plows, sows, and reaps it. His field is art. His inspiration is life, is nature - which he loved with all his strength.
    • Quote by fr:Alfred Sensier, in his 'Preface' of Jean-Francois Millet – Peasant and Painter, [10]; translated from the French original by Helena de Kay; publisher, Macmillan and Co., London 1881, p. xi
  • ..I fear that in a few years there may be a kind of 'panic', in this form: 'since Millet' we have sunk very low — the word decadence, now whispered or pronounced in veiled terms (see Herkomer), will then sound like an alarm bell. Many, like I myself, now keep quiet, because they already have the reputation of being awkward customers, and talking about it doesn't help. That — namely, talking — isn't what one needs to do — one must work, though with sorrow in the heart. Those who later cry out the loudest about decadence will themselves belong to it the most. I repeat: 'by this shall ye know them', [from: Matt. 7:16.] by their work, and it won't be the most eloquent who say the truest things. See Millet himself, see Herkomer, they're certainly not orators, and speak almost reluctantly.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh in a letter to Theo, from The Hague, 5 Nov 1882 - original manuscript of letter no. 280 - at Van Gogh Museum, location Amsterdam - inv. b263 a-b V/1962, [11]
  • Three of his [Millet's] canvases, especially, represented [at the exhibition 'Cent Chefs-d'Oeuvres: the Choiche of the French Private Galleries', 1883] the whole career of the artist; three absolute masterpieces, the 'Gleaners',, the 'Sheepfold by Moonlight',, the 'Man Hoeing' [Man with a Hoe, ]; all three give birth to the same surprise. It is that the figures, in their small dimensions, assume under the eye that contemplates them the scale of nature. This mirage is explained by the grandeur of this art springing from nature itself and drawing you to nature with all her force. The eye sees the thing in the dimensions which it actually has; and it is thus that it stamps itself on the memory. A great artist is able to reduce proportions without belittling the majesty of things.
    • Quote by Albert Wolff, 1886, in Notes upon certain masters of the XIX century, - printed not published MDCCCLXXXVI (1886), The Art Age Press, 400 N.Y. (written after the exhibition 'Cent Chefs-d'Oeuvres: the Choiche of the French Private Galleries', Petit, Paris / Baschet, New York, 1883, p. 23
  • The great Millet indignantly protests ['Le Figaro' has just published two letters of Millet] against the Commune [and the communards] , whom he characterizes as barbarians and vandals; he concludes with a dig at good Courbet, who, as I see it, can only be aggrandized by this attempt at belittlement. Because of his painting 'The Man with the Hoe', the socialists thought Millet was on their side.. .Not at all. More and more indignant disavowals from the great painter! What do you think of that? I was not much surprised. He was just a bit too biblical.
    • Quote of Camille Pissarro, in a letter, Eragny, 25 February 1887, to his son Lucien; in Camille Pissarro - Letters to His Son Lucien ed. John Rewald, with assistance of Lucien Pissarro; from the unpublished French letters; transl. Lionel Abel; Pantheon Books Inc. New York, second edition, 1943, p. 105
  • ..the first celebrated picture which he painted at Barbizon [in 1850], was 'The Sower'. Long ago, in the days of his youth at Greville, he had sketched the figure of a peasant scattering grain in the furrows as he walks along. That little pen-and-ink drawing, in its few strokes, contains the germ of the future work. The pose and movement of the figure, the measured step, and outstretched arm are there already; the rusty felt hat sunk over the young labourer's brows, the very shape and cut of his clothes, the sack of grain at his side, even the oxen ploughing in the background, are all indicated. From this slight sketch the artist, after his wont, slowly and painfully evolved his noble work. He has left us several drawings which enable us, step by step, to follow the development of his idea through its successive stages.
    • Quote Julia Cartwright, 1902; in Jean Francois Millet, his Life and Letters; Swan Sonnenschein en Co, Lim. London / The Macmillian Company, New York; second edition, September 1902, p. 112

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