by Scholes, Robert
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Jean-François Millet (1814 - 1875)
The son of a small peasant farmer of Gréville in Normandy, Millet showed a precocious interest in drawing, and arrived in Paris in 1838 to become a pupil of Paul Delaroche. In 1849, when a cholera epidemic broke out in Paris, Millet moved to Barbizon and took a house near that of the landscape painter, Théodore Rousseau. Devoted to this area as a subject for his work, he was one of those who most clearly helped to create the Barbizon School of painters. It has been said that "Millet was the first painter to endow rural life with a dignity and monumentality that transcend realism, making the peasant an almost heroic figure." His impact on European art was enormous. He encouraged Boudin, and influenced Monet and Pissaro, as well as Van Gogh, who made versions of many of Millet's images.