Jean-François Millet (1814 - 1875), 1869
pastel and black chalk on paper,
70.5 cm x 84 cm
The Mesdag Collection, The Hague
Not everyone appreciated this weary grape picker with his soiled feet. The realistic image of harsh peasant life was too direct. One critic even called the man in this pastel drawing a ‘wild beast.’
And yet the sheet has great artistic quality. Millet’s mastery of drawing in pastel was unrivalled.
Millet was a leading painter of the so-called Barbizon School. From 1849 he lived in Barbizon, a village in the Forest of Fontainebleau. There he painted mostly scenes of peasant life. He was an example for many artists.