Work of Art: Peasant Spreading Manure
Jean-François Millet
Peasant Spreading Manure
Oil on canvas
32 x 44 in. (81.3 x 111.8 cm)
Purchased with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

The son of farmers, Millet frequently depicted the struggle and toil of rural peasants, representing his subjects with quiet dignity as they went about their labors. By the late 1870s, Millet and like-minded artists known as the Barbizon school were gaining acceptance in the art world and with the young impressionists, who admired the naturalism of their landscapes. Millet was unable to complete this painting for the Paris World's Fair of 1855, but his friend and fellow painter Théodore Rousseau bought the work even without its finishing details. Although Millet's open landscape no doubt appealed to his friend, Rousseau probably purchased it primarily to assist the impoverished Millet with his debts.

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