Jean-François Millet / L'enfant malade / 1858Jean-François Millet
L'enfant malade

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Creator Name: Millet, Jean-François
Creator Nationality: European; French
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: 1814 - 1875

Son of a wealthy farmer, Jean-François Millet studied with a portrait painter from Cherbourg, Bon du Mouchel (1807-1846), himself a student of David (q.v.). Mouchel required his young apprentice to copy paintings in the museum in Cherbourg, where Millet had been sent to enter the studio of Lucien-Théophile Langlois (1803-1845), a former student of Gros (q.v.). Millet received a stipend from the city to move to Paris in 1837, enrolling in the École des Beaux-Arts in the studio of Delaroche (q.v.), where he met Couture (q.v.). Within two years he had left Delaroche, and his stipend was withdrawn. To earn a living, he executed pastels and small paintings in the style of Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1729) and François Boucher (1703-1770). In 1839 the first painting that Millet sent to the Salon, Saint Anne Instructing the Virgin, was refused. The following year one portrait was accepted at the Salon, and Millet spent the winter in Cherbourg where he could make a living painting portraits. After his marriage to Pauline-Virginie Ono, he returned to Paris, painting various subjects but finding little success. He met Théodore Rousseau (q.v.) and Diaz de la Peña (q.v.) and was introduced to Durand-Ruel, who purchased some of his works, at that point mainly pastoral scenes and nudes. In the late 1840s Millet began to devote himself to painting peasants and rural life, subjects that automatically had political overtones in the light of the 1848 revolutions. In 1849 he settled in Barbizon, continuing his depictions of the peasantry. He achieved some financial security thanks to Alfred Sensier, who supplied him with materials and sold his paintings. At the Salon of 1850-51 Millet exhibited The Sower (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), which received a great deal of attention. Although the conservatives accused Millet of overemphasizing the poverty of the peasants, the republican and leftist movement hailed the painting as a dignified representation of the working class. Millet claimed to be interested solely in the biblical allusions of his subject, yet he seemed to persist in painting the poorest peasants at the worst tasks. The final ten years of his life were successful ones. A retrospective of his work at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867 solidified his reputation, and the following year he received the Legion of Honor. His work was influential for generations of artists.

Gender: M
Creator Birth Place: Gruchy, near Greville, 4 October 1814
Creator Death Place: Barbizon, 20 January 1875
Creator Name-CRT: Jean-François Millet
Title: L'enfant malade
Title Type: Foreign
Title: The Sick Child
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1858
Creation End Date: 1858
Creation Date: 1858
Object Type: Drawings and Watercolors
Classification Term: Drawing
Materials and Techniques: black crayon; framing lines in black crayon
Dimensions: Sheet: 40.4cm x 32.1cm, Image: 32.9cm x 24.9cm
Inscriptions: by artist?, lower center, in black chalk: enfant mala[de] [partially erased] ; by artist?, lower center, in black chalk: 5 ; in graphite, lower center: [illegible: circled number?][written over the 5] ; lower center, in graphite: No 100
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1998.300
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Paul J. Vignos, Jr.
Provenance: Estate of the artist [stamp, lower right, in black ink, Lugt 1460; verso, lower left, in black ink, Lugt Suppl. 1816a]. CHECK MILLET CATALOG, CHECK 1894 CAT OF MILLET'S WIDOW

Jean-François Millet?s paintings of French rural life, especially those of peasants and farmers in their working environment, redefined the imagery of everyday life in the nineteenth century. Large-scale paintings such as The Gleaners, from 1857, presented the poorest of laborers with a dignity and

nobility informed by classical traditions in French painting. At the same time he was working on major paintings for public exhibitions, Millet was also making smaller scale drawings. Since drawings were less expensive, there was a much larger market for this type of work, and Millet created finished sheets in both black crayon and pastel as he catered to this demand.

The work shown here is the first version of a theme the artist drew again in pastel in a more finished version (now lost). This crayon drawing shows, on the other hand, Millet?s thinking process. We can see him working out the composition because several changes are visible, most notably in the bowl held by the father and the cat in the window. Though taken from everyday life, Millet?s tender treatment of this family group recalls the biblical subject of the Holy Family.

AMICA ID: CMA_.1998.300
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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