Breton Peasant Woman Holding a Taper
On View: European Art Galleries, 5th floor
In this image of a woman holding a rosary and candle, Jules Breton conveyed the devotion associated with the people of Brittany, a conservative, religious region of northeastern France. The work is a study for a figure in one of his many paintings of pardons, Brittany’s annual penitential rites in which peasants in traditional dress take part in a procession. Many urban male artists in the nineteenth century perceived Brittany—especially its women, whom they nearly always depicted wearing their distinctive white headdresses—as “primitive,” pious avatars of a culture unspoiled by modern life.
Oil on canvas
12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)
Frame: 24 x 20 3/4 x 4 1/4 in. (show scale)
Signed lower left: "J. Breton"
Bequest of William H. Herriman
Jules Breton (French, 1827-1906). Breton Peasant Woman Holding a Taper, ca. 1869. Oil on canvas, 12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of William H. Herriman, 21.102 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 21.102_PS9.jpg)
overall, 21.102_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Could you please tell me a little more about the artist?
Jules Breton (1 May 1827 – 5 July 1906) was a 19th-century French Realist painter. His paintings are largely inspired by the French countryside. Academically trained at the Ecole des Beaux arts in Paris, his paintings combine an idealized view of farm workers and the countryside in an era of industrial growth. He was immensely popular during his time with both the public and artists. Van Gogh walked 87 miles to see his work! While it was unusual at the time to paint peasants as an artistic subject, Breton’s idealized views of fieldworkers hit a popular chord. His work is often compared to that of Jean-Francois Millet, who painted heroic peasants emphasizing the hardship of their labor.