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The Harvesters

Jean-François Millet. 1857

Jean-François Millet was not only the painter of the peasant class, but he was also one of them. He grew up working in the field in a humble family in the Normandy area. His training in art began there with a local painter and then traveled to Paris. He was accused of being a socialist because of his great interest in representing rural life and the working class.

This painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1857 and was not received in a good way, even its content was labeled as "dangerous" for the audience.

In the Harvesters, Millet shows us the face of peasant poverty. In this painting, the women we see were authorized to collect the harvest grains that were left behind. Back we see the foreman riding a horse supervising his workers. We can notice the contrast between what the gleaners collect and the abundance of production for their owner. The women have their eyes glued to the ground and they bend down constantly and hard to collect the leftover grains. The painter is kind to his viewers and shows us this scene with a soft brushwork that sweetens reality.

Vincent Van Gogh was a great admirer of Millet, and made reinterpretations of his paintings since like his teacher, ambition to represent the working class in a real and dignified manner.