Title

Millet's The Gleaners: Rural Laborers Taken for Granted

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Merrill Schleier

Abstract/Artist Statement

In the mid-nineteenth century the French Realist painter Jean-Francois Millet was !mown for his depictions of the plight of peasants. In The Gleaners (1857), Millet depicts three peasants engaged in the difficult task of gleaning, the scavenging of the remains after harvest. This work stimulated contradictory readings; some have asserted that Millet had a political agenda to start a revolution while others saw him as a passive peasant painter, one who intended to paint an apolitical pastoral scene. The Gleaners received criticism as a "socialist" painting because of the dissonance between the Parisian understanding of peasants and the actuality of their suffering. Parisians were aware of the peasants who were located thirty-five miles from Paris who supplied their labors for the city. These peasants were relatively well off. On the contrary, deep in the countryside, such as in the Barbizon forest, peasants were engaged in backbreaking labor. These are the laborers that Millet chose to depict to the Parisians. rn contrast to the previous interpretations of The Gleaners, I will explore Millet's dualistic vision of peasants as both noble and oppressed in order to garner recognition for their plight. By employing formal and socioeconomical analyses, relying on artistic and literary influences, and Millet's own attitudes toward peasants, I aim to develop a more balanced understanding of The Gleaners. After analyzing the painting and the response that it received from critics, it is evident that often critics' own political motivations were projected onto Millet's work

Location

Wendell Phillips Center, Room 144

Start Date

3-5-2008 9:00 AM

End Date

3-5-2008 12:30 PM

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May 3rd, 9:00 AM May 3rd, 12:30 PM

Millet's The Gleaners: Rural Laborers Taken for Granted

Wendell Phillips Center, Room 144

In the mid-nineteenth century the French Realist painter Jean-Francois Millet was !mown for his depictions of the plight of peasants. In The Gleaners (1857), Millet depicts three peasants engaged in the difficult task of gleaning, the scavenging of the remains after harvest. This work stimulated contradictory readings; some have asserted that Millet had a political agenda to start a revolution while others saw him as a passive peasant painter, one who intended to paint an apolitical pastoral scene. The Gleaners received criticism as a "socialist" painting because of the dissonance between the Parisian understanding of peasants and the actuality of their suffering. Parisians were aware of the peasants who were located thirty-five miles from Paris who supplied their labors for the city. These peasants were relatively well off. On the contrary, deep in the countryside, such as in the Barbizon forest, peasants were engaged in backbreaking labor. These are the laborers that Millet chose to depict to the Parisians. rn contrast to the previous interpretations of The Gleaners, I will explore Millet's dualistic vision of peasants as both noble and oppressed in order to garner recognition for their plight. By employing formal and socioeconomical analyses, relying on artistic and literary influences, and Millet's own attitudes toward peasants, I aim to develop a more balanced understanding of The Gleaners. After analyzing the painting and the response that it received from critics, it is evident that often critics' own political motivations were projected onto Millet's work