25 September 2019
One of Millet’s best-known, most important and most pioneering works, the painting left the Musée d’Orsay in Paris – where it is usually on permanent display – to be included in the exhibition "Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art' on display at the Van Gogh Museum from 4 October 2019.
Yes, that painting by Millet “The angelus”, “that’s it”. That’s rich, that’s poetry.
Vincent van Gogh, 1874
Commercialisation of the art world
On 1 July 1889, Millet’s painting The Angelus was sold at auction in Paris for the astronomical sum of 553,000 francs, the highest amount ever paid for a modern artwork. Less than a year later, it was sold again, this time to a French businessman for 750,000 francs. Following the sale, a heated international debate erupted about the commercialisation of the art world. This helped make The Angelus one of the world’s most famous artworks.
Earthly and religious, intimate and universal
The renowned painting depicts two peasants, who – having heard the distant church bells – have started their evening prayers. Millet portrays faith as an everyday, personal experience. Artists and critics alike admired the sweeping, universal emotions symbolised by these two simple peasants.
‘The work is both earthly and religious, both intimate and universal’, says Maite van Dijk, Senior Curator of Paintings at the Van Gogh Museum.
Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art
Millet was a great source of inspiration for other artists. With his radical painting technique, modern style and inspirational portrayal of peasant life, he truly sowed the seeds of modern art. Millet’s The Angelus was his most influential painting. On display from 4 October at the Van Gogh Museum, the exhibition Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art explores the impact of Millet on many international artists, including Van Gogh, Monet, Homer, Munch, Malevich and Dalí.
Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art is a collaboration with the Saint Louis Art Museum, and was realised with the exceptional support of the Musée d’Orsay.