Jean-François Millet (Gruchy 1814–1875 Barbizon)
Thatched Cottages near Vichy, 1867
Watercolor, brown ink, and pen on cream laid paper
7 5/16 × 9 15/16 in. (185.7 × 252.4 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.
Millet was one of the leading artists of the Barbizon school, a community of artists who painted in the countryside around Barbizon, a village outside Paris. Their commitment to painting en plein air was shared by the younger group of French artists who came to be called the Impressionists. Millet became known for his scenes exploring the labor and dignity of country peasants, courting controversy and accusations of political provocation around the issue of the impoverished peasant class in France. In the summer of 1866, Millet moved his family from Barbizon to Vichy, a spa town in central France, in the hopes of improving his wife’s ill health. This move coincided with a turning point in his production. For the next three summers, he made hundreds of drawings and watercolors of the countryside around Vichy, and he spent the remainder of his life exploring landscape as a genre, as in this sheet.