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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jean Francois Millet: Peasants vs. Nudes

I've always thought of Millet as a painter of peasants and farmers.  He has remained somewhere in my periphery as a genre painter, but a recent look at his nude figures has opened my eyes to his command of  human form and emotion.  They are also accessible, and a testament to the timelessness of the nude.  Their form is so cut and dry-Scarcely more than a front plane and a side plane, and not much halftone or highlight to speak of, not far from a page from Bridgman's anatomy books.  The total effect, though is strength in form, human empathy, and raw power.

My personal favorite of Millet's Peasant paintings.  Lots of angst in this one, and beautiful golden light in the background.  Is that another figure way back there?

You know this one:

The one immediately below is my least favorite Millet, maybe because of the two static verticles, or possibly because of the worn out American sentiment that has attached itself to this 19th Century French painting.  A print of it hangs at the Baptist church down the street from my house.
This one is called "The Shooting Stars".
L'Amour VainqueurThe bather - Jean-Francois Millet

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