Title: La Grande Bergère (The Large Shepherdess)
Dimensions: Image: 12 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches (31.8 x 23.5 cm);
Sheet: 15 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches (38.7 x 26.7 cm)
Bequest of William P. Chapman, Jr., Class of 1895
Millet was born and raised in a small hamlet near Cherbourg on the Normandy coast. His ancestry was strongly rooted in French peasant stock, and it is not surprising that his most successful works portray the everyday life of these people. As a young man he took art lessons in Cherbourg, quickly moving on to Paris where he studied and copied the great masters, particularly Michelangelo, Poussin, and Correggio, while taking lessons in an academic style of painting with the very popular Paul Delaroche. Millet learned to despise this style, and, though he could skillfully imitate it, he rejected it as facile and without emotion. In 1849, at the outbreak of the cholera epidemic, Millet moved his family to Barbizon for what was supposed to be a two-month respite but turned into a twenty-six-year sojourn. At home in his new rustic surroundings, he again turned to the people of the fields for inspiration, recorded over and over again in oil, pastel, and etching. La Grande Bergère is a superb example of Millet's talent with the etching needle. Rendered with an economy of broad, bold lines and with no unnecessary detail, he concentrates on the almost regal form of the knitting shepherdess, captured with densely cross-hatched strokes. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.