The Gleaners (Des glaneuses) is an oil painting, 83.8 cm × 111.8 cm (33 in × 44 in), created by French realist painter Jean-Francois Millet in 1857. The piece of oil painting vividly depicts the nineteenth-century French rural life, with a rich flavor of harvest.
Jean-Francois Millet arranges the farm as the main scene of background, and aims at three women gleaners being bent to pick up ears of wheat. Through the observation of the painting, we can see three peasant women occupy in the center of the screen, each bending with different angles, while their eyes all raking down to the ground. To contrast with the distant crowd, they wear coarse clothes and clunky wooden shoes, having robust statures. It is not appropriate to say that they are beautiful or elegant. However, three dynamic positions are illustrated differently by Millet’s brush, which embodies the reality of labor in various gestures. It also revealed Miller’s exquisite ...view middle of the document...
To be specific, the light is from rear lift corner to right front. The characters stations are also lined up with the direction of painting’s light source. Therefore, the intensity of light by three characters is caused with a slight different, as well as the contrast of light and dark applying on the human bodies. Further more, according to linear perspective, since the distances between three gleaners in the picture and audiences are different, the figures’ sizes are different. Meanwhile, the background is also depicted with the light source and gleaners’ positions coordinately, following the principle of balance precisely. As some parts of background are closer to the light source than the front, they are applied with brighter hues, high in value. In addition, Millet places things like haystack, trees and farmhouse in the back, and peasant women in the front. Hence. On the basis the positions of objects, the principle of line perspective, and the relative distance to the viewer, three gleaners visually appear within a larger proportion on the painting. In other words, the front figures’ sizes are bigger than the back objects’.
Further more, in the painting, “the Gleaners”, the entire screen is filled with contrast elements. First of all, the main figures in the front labor scene are full of rich vigor, contrasting to the background with silent objects such as hay, trees and farmhouse. Secondly, the color brightness of the front contrast to the back, as well as the comparison of relative sizes between figures and scenery, applying the principle of perspective. What’s more, the most classic is the horizontal line, the intersection of the sky and the ground, contrasting with the light source, from the top left. Consequently, 2D and 3D spatial effects are combined precisely. Meanwhile, the sense of space of the image is strengthened as well.
For this oil painting on canvas, the painter Jean-Francois Millet did use concise expression means, instead of complex techniques. Hence, through such a real typical rural image, the figures of these low-class but with unique beauty gleaners being featured properly within a appropriate scene, Millet’s ideas are naturally expressed.