Friday, 20 September 2013
' The Gleaners ' Jean-Francois Millet (French 1814-1875) Oil on canvas , circa 1857. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
True to one of Millet's favourite subjects - peasant life - this painting is the culmination of ten years of research on the gleaners.These women incarnate the rural working-class. They were authorised to go quickly through the fields at sunset to pick up , one by one , the ears of corn missed by the harvesters. The painter shows three of them in the foreground , bent double , their eyes raking the ground. He thus juxtaposes the three phases of the back-breaking repetitive movement imposed by this thankless task : bending over , picking up the ears of corn and straightening up again .