In a time when many people were rejecting a Biblical worldview and instead chasing after worldly philosophies, French artist Jean-Francois Millet offered a piercing light in the midst of a desperately dark time. Growing up in a relatively poor home gave Millet an appreciation for the hard work that poor people did to survive; an appreciation that came out in the numerous works he completed. In addition, through his works, this artist showed that he grasped the importance of everyday work in the Kingdom of God, and the fact that every individual human life has importance and meaning.
Famed Realism artist Jean-Francois Millet was born into a peasant family in the little town of Greville in 1814 (Pioch). Desiring to grow in his artistic academics, Millet went to several different schools to learn how to paint. He studied in Cherbourg in 1833, and eventually moved to Paris to finish his scholastic endeavors in 1839 (Encyclopedia Britannica). In 1841 he married a woman named Pauline-Virginie Ono, but she tragically died in 1843. Deciding to try again, Millet married a second time, this time to a certain Catherine Lemaire. They remained married until Millet’s death (Herman). In the total time of his marriages, Millet had nine children, but had a difficult time raising them, due to the fact that he had a very hard time making money off of his painting career alone (Herman). At the end of his life, Millet lived in the village of Barbizon, where he died in 1875, known for being a voice of the peasants in his artistic endeavors.
As mentioned, Millet showed a vocal appreciation for the peasant class in his artistic works. Many of his paintings such as Winnower, or the Gleaners simply portray people of the poor class working diligently (Encyclopedia Britannica). Perhaps Millet’s most famous work was his ingenious oil painting The Sower. In this work, he shows a peasant sowing in fields. He holds a bag of seed in one hand, and his other hand spreads out the seeds majestically. The air of the painting, though the task seems not too important, is very noble and elegant. The peasant portrayed is dressed in somewhat shabby clothes, but goes about his work nobly. His arms and legs seem to burst forth with muscle. In short, though the painting is showing a lower class worker, Millet makes him seem important and like a hero. This was revolutionary for Millet’s time, because before, if peasants were painted at all, they were shown to be lazy dimwits, who deserved no respect (Strickland, 84). But instead, Millet portrayed them as he thought of them: “heroes and the essence of a lasting way of life (Herman).” Undoubtedly Millet’s childhood as a peasant made him have a different perspective of peasant life: they worked hard and had dignity and significance in society. He showed in his works a vocal appreciation for the work that peasants did.
Through Millet’s masterpiece The Sower, he not only gave a vivid social commentary, he also was voicing a subtle but...