MILLET, Jean-François
(b. 1814, Gruchy, d. 1875, Barbizon)


French painter, the son of a peasant. He was trained under a local painter at Cherbourg and then in Paris (1837) under Delaroche. His earliest works are pastiches of the pastorals of the 18th century and rather erotic nudes, but he also painted portraits for a time. The influence of Daumier seems to have been decisive, and in 1848 he exhibited at the Salon a peasant subject, The Winnower (London, National Gallery; versions are in Paris, Louvre).

From c. 1850 his choice of subject matter led to accusations of Socialism (e.g. The Sower, Salon of 1850). In 1849 he moved to Barbizon and remained there for the rest of his life, living in the most gruelling poverty, painting scenes of peasants and their labours as well as ordinary landscapes and marines. The Angelus (1857-60: Paris, Musée d'Orsay), though his best-known work, shows him with an unusually sentimental approach. His works are particularly well represented in Boston, and in America generally. There are works in many French and British museums.