Introduction to The Gleaners

The Gleaners 1857

The Gleaners 1857

The Gleaners was created in 1857 by the French painter Jean Francois Millet, depicting people picking up surplus grain in the countryside after the autumn harvest. It was a typical representative of realistic art style. The painting is now collected in the Orsay museum of Paris. In a golden rice field, these women dressed in coarse clothes were working hard to pick up the rest grain, with each hand holding a small bundle of wheat. In the distance, the farmers were busy mounting these heaps of wheat on a trailer. All the people and wheat showed a kind of rhythm beauty. Under the golden sunshine, people were busy working. The Gleaners by Millet represented a very natural and simple pastoral beauty.

The word glean originates from the Old Testament, meaning the farmers need to pick up the left wheat after the autumn harvest for food and clothing. In addition to the depicting 3 women picking up the rest grain, the painting also portrayed the details, such as golden sunshine, bending, etc to show the heroic lofty artistic conception.  Millet was born in the farm of Normandy. This painting was his representative when he could not find his art direction before 35 years old. He hated the crazy atmosphere and noise in Paris. For the first time he used realism in The Gleaners whose simple and solid drawing skill and unique treatment in the unnecessary parts particularly attracted people’s attention. The carriage, horse, houses, trees, weeds and the small figures were the necessary components of this labor scene. In Millet's works, people were also taken as the center.  Van Gogh also copied the works of Millet.

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