Friends and neighbors in Paris:—
Couture (also fellow student in studio of Delaroche).
Tourneaux (1809-1867), painter and poet.
Diaz (1808-1876), landscape painter.
Joseph Guichard (1836-1877), marine painter.
Charles Jacque (1813- ), etcher.
Sechan, clever scene painter.
Dieterle, clever scene painter.
Azevedo, musical critic.
Friends at Barbizon:—
Charles Jacque (who removed thither with him).
Diaz (also a friend of the Paris days).
Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867).
William Morris Hunt, American painter.
Mr. Hearn, American painter.
Mr. Babcock, American painter.
Edward Wheelwright, American painter.
Wyatt Eaton, American painter.
Will Low, American painter.
GOING TO WORK
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where the sea forms a narrow channel separating the British Isles from the European continent, lies that part of France known as the old province of Normandy. There is here a very dangerous and precipitous coast lined with granite cliffs. The villages along the sea produce a hardy race of peasants who make bold fishermen on the water and thrifty farmers on the land.
To this Norman peasant stock belonged Jean Francois Millet, the painter of the pictures reproduced in this little book. He was brought up to hard out-of-door labor on his father’s farm in the village of Greville, but when the artistic impulses within him could no longer be repressed, he left his home to study art. Though he became a famous painter, he always remained at heart a true peasant. He set up his home and his studio in a village called Barbizon, near the Forest of Fontainebleau, not many miles from Paris. Here he devoted all his gifts to illustrating the life of the tillers of the soil. His subjects were drawn both from his immediate surroundings and from the recollections of his youth. “Since I have never in all my life known anything but the fields,” he said, “I try to say, as best I can, what I saw and felt when I worked there.” It is now a quarter of a century since the painter’s life work ended, and in these years some few changes have been made in the customs and costumes which Millet’s pictures represented. Such changes, however, are only outward; the real life of peasant labor is always the same. Seedtime and harvest, toil, weariness and rest, the ties of home and of religion, are subjects which never grow old fashioned.
In France the farm labors are shared by men and women alike. The peasant woman is sturdily built, and her healthy out-of-door life makes her very strong. She is fitted by nature and training to work beside the men in the fields. In our first picture we see a young man and woman starting out together for the day’s work.