What do artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Munch and Dalí have in common? They were all inspired by the French artist Jean-François Millet. With his radical painting technique, modern style and inspirational portrayal of peasant life, Millet undoubtedly sowed the seeds of modern art. In our autumn exhibition, discover Millet’s oeuvre and the work of the many artists whom he inspired.
4 October 2019 – 12 January 2020
The exhibition Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art illustrates just how progressive the work of Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) was for his time. Despite his classical art training in Paris, his style and technique were far from traditional.
Millet painted using coarse brushstrokes and brought his subjects back to their essence by simplifying shapes and using strong lines. He introduced radical new compositions in his landscapes, with a high horizon or sweeping empty plains.
Millet’s modernity is also reflected in his themes. Instead of focusing on the rise of factories or large cities as signs of the modern times, he concentrated on the unrelenting peasant life. In his time, Millet’s deep understanding and depiction of this peasant life was going against the norm, and he was therefore seen as contrary.
This is the first exhibition to explore how Millet’s paintings, drawings and pastels inspired the work of numerous 19th- and early 20th-century international artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Giovanni Segantini, Winslow Homer, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dalí.
Millet had an animated and successful career. During his life, his paintings were often criticised, due to his radical painting technique and the social criticism thought to be manifested in his depiction of peasant life. Shortly after his death, the French government embraced Millet as a national hero, who had captured rural France in all its glory.
Free Introduction to Jean-François Millet
Begin your visit to the Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art exhibition with a short introduction to Millet’s oeuvre and the work of the many artists whom he inspired. The 30-minute introductions take place in the auditorium on Thursdays at 11 am.
Delve deeper into the exhibition and join the English spoken lecture Jean-François Millet: An introduction to his modernity by Simon Kelly (Curator and Head of Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum). The lecture takes place on 6 October in the auditorium at 2 pm.
Collaboration with Saint Louis Art Museum
The exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. Jean-François Millet: Sowing the Seeds of Modern Art will be on display at the Van Gogh Museum from 4 October 2019 until 12 January 2020. The exhibition will subsequently travel to Saint Louis, where it will be on display from 16 February to 17 May 2020 with the alternative title of Millet and Modern Art.
Jean-François Millet and the Hague School
This exhibition runs almost concurrently with the exhibition Jean-François Millet and the Hague School at The Mesdag Collection in The Hague (13 September 2019 to 5 January 2020), which explores Millet’s influence on the Hague School artists.
With thanks to
This exhibition was realised with support from our partners and sponsors: