Textual description of firstImageUrl

Jean-François Millet at the National Museum of Wales



The goose girl's wistful gaze contrasts against the lively geese honking behind her and swimming in the water. In the background are the houses of Gruchy, the hamlet in Normandy where Millet was born.
This work was painted after his first visit to the area in nearly ten years.
There is a sense of personal nostlagia, less common to his works from Barbizon.

Jean Francois Millet | The goose girl at Gruchy | National Museum Wales

Jean-François Millet by Nadar

Jean-François Millet | The peasant family, 1871-1872 | National Museum of Wales

Begun in 1871-72 but left unfinished, this haunting scene depicts a Norman peasant family in their farmyard. It embodies a primitivism which may draw upon Egyptian sculpture and Quattrocento paintings seen by Millet in the Louvre.
The British painter Sickert commented: 'The sublime man and his stolid spouse face the spectator with all the gravity and symmetry of two caryatids, while the child essays, a baby Samson, the strength of the pillars of his house'. Margaret Davies purchased this work in 1911.

Jean François Millet | La Cardeuse

Jean-François Millet | The gust of wind | National Museum Wales

In this dramatic moment, at the height of a storm, a great oak tree is torn from its roots as the wind ravages the landscape.
Below, a small peasant figure gives scale to the event, implying romanticist ideas about the force of nature over man. It may also symbolize traditional rural life which Millet felt was being destroyed by the changing modern world.

Jean-François Millet | The Sower, 1847-1848 | National Museum of Wales

Executed in 1847-48, this is a preliminary version of the painting of a peasant sowing with which Millet made his name at the Salon of 1850-51.
Here the sower is a faltering figure enveloped by his surroundings, his seed threatened by hungry birds. On the horizon are two grazing cattle. The steep landscape is that of Millet's native Cherbourg peninsula.
This poignant scene recalls the biblical parable and is a moving image of an opresed social class. It was purchased by Gwendoline Davies in 1911.

Jean-François Millet | Winter The Faggot Gatherers, 1868-75 | National Museum of Wales

This stark image of rural hardship depicts three heavily laden women returning in the darkness from collecting firewood. The subject is one which Millet revisited in sketches over the course of several years.
This painting, however, remained unfinished. It is possible that it represented ‘Winter’ in a group of the four seasons. Millet painted over a female portrait which is partly visible on the right.

Jean-François Millet | The good Samaritan | National Museum of Wales

In the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan a social outcast comes to the aid of a man who has been robbed and abandoned at the roadside. Millet’s painting makes a modern analogy of this moral tale, but with an added satirical twist.
Rather than a victim of attack, the ailing figure on the right appears to have fallen into a drunken stupor.

Jean-François Millet | The Seated Shepherdess | National Museum of Wales

The young shepherdess sits in peaceful contemplation, distracted from her grazing sheep.
Her turning pose appears almost like a classical sculpture but is made realistic by her simple clothes, tanned skin and large work-worn hands.
Millet’s paintings changed the role of rural workers in art, focussing on the rigours of peasant labour, making them appear independent and often iconic.