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Jean-Francois Millet
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    (October 4, 1814-January 20, 1875)
    Born in Gruchy, France
    Founder of the Barbizon School of painters
    Known for scenes of peasants
    Notable works include 'The Sower' (1850), 'Harvesters Resting (Ruth and Boaz)' (1853), 'The Gleaners' (1857) and 'The Angelus' (1859)
    For much of his career, he had to paint signs to make ends meet.
    His focus on peasants and workers led to accusations that he was a socialist and revolutionary.
    One biographer described him as 'curiously ambivalent' towards the peasants he depicted, noting 'He tended to look upon farm workers as narrow-minded and oblivious of beauty.'
    Although he grew up as a farm laborer, he studied Latin and literature with a parish priest and was considered one of the best educated artists of his generation.
    He said, 'I must confess, even if you think me a socialist, that the human side of art is what touches me most.'
    His works grew increasingly popular over the years, leading to his being named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (1868).
    He influenced Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Georges Seurat.

Credit: C. Fishel

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