The French realist painter Jean Francoise Millet (1814 – 1875) has gone down in art history for his large paintings of a rural setting, in which he shows us in all his harshness the work and ways of life of the peasantry of the time. Scenes that reach their zenith with works such as Las Espigadoras or El Angelus. However, prior to these masterpieces, Millet also made other types of images, especially the occasional portrait like the one of this girl.
Portrait of a Girl by Millet
This Portrait of a Girl is a work from the beginnings of Millet as a painter, since it is a work from the year 1844 The portrayed is the young Antoinette Hervé, and we see her in front of a mirror, an element that incorporates into portraits the possibility of integrating different perspectives of the character, and that had made the great romantic artist Dominique Ingres, who painted several of his portraits with the appearance of mirrors, such as the image of Madame de Senonnes.
The truth is that the use of mirrors in portraiture was not exactly a novelty, although it is true that in the mid-nineteenth century it was going to be done with much freer approaches and structures than those of the past.
On the other hand, despite being a work by Millet long before his moment of greatest artistic maturity, the truth is that one of the most characteristic elements ofhis pictorial production. We are talking about its emblematic golden light, which although it is not dominant, is already more than outstanding and represents another step in its evolution. In fact, in another of his works from the 1940s, such as theNude lying on his back, he reappears with a greater prominence.
A portrait, a nude, you can see that they are a different type of works than those that will give him all his celebrity. And it is that it is a few years before the Revolution of 1848, which will undoubtedly mark his personal and artistic career.
Before these momentous episodes, the truth is that Millet was a painter that we could classify as traditional and quite conventional, whose production was based precisely on portrait works. Although it is true that in these commissioned works, there are details that show some touches of intimacy and a light treatment that in some way anticipate the great painter that he would become in later decades.