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Studies for Harvesters Resting

Jean-François Millet

European Art

This drawing is a lively example of an artist thinking on paper—experimenting with position and gesture, and even turning the paper upside down to work on it from another direction. It is one of more than fifty preparatory drawings Jean-François Millet made for the large painting Harvesters Resting, 1853, which recasts the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz with the rural workers of the Barbizon region who were this Realist artist’s primary subject. On the left a quickly sketched Ruth wears heavy clogs, while the figure of Boaz is depicted twice—dressed and nude—demonstrating Millet’s academic training and thorough understanding of anatomy. In the biblical story, the poor gleaner Ruth marries the wealthy landowner Boaz, but here, Boaz is dressed as a nineteenth-century métayer, a sharecropper who oversaw farms for a wealthy urban landowner. Instead of a poor woman marrying a rich man, Millet suggests the union of two members of different lower classes—a potentially dangerous situation for the landowners—giving the image a contemporaneous political inflection.
MEDIUM Conté crayon on wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES n.d.
    DIMENSIONS Uneven: 7 1/2 x 11 5/8 in. (19.1 x 29.5 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Stamped lower left: "J.F.M." (Lugt 1460)
    SIGNATURE Signed, "J.F.M." lower left of composition in crayon.
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 36.66
    CREDIT LINE Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Jean-François Millet (French, 1814-1875). Studies for Harvesters Resting, n.d. Conté crayon on wove paper, Uneven: 7 1/2 x 11 5/8 in. (19.1 x 29.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund, 36.66 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 36.66_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 36.66_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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