On 4 October 1814 the artist Jean Francois Millet was born to a poor peasant family in the north of France. He was one of the first artists I grew to appreciate after often seeing a trio of his works (Angelus, Gleaners & Shepherdess) hanging in many family homes.
This year at the Rimini Meeting one of the exhibitions focussed on the work of Millet, and especially on the fact that Van Gogh (born 40 years after Millet) was deeply influenced by Millet even to the extent of copying his work as a humble and open gratitude to his master Millet. A quick look at this page will show just how detailed these copies were. It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but Van Gogh was not flattering Millet but rather taking time with his own canvas and oils to savour Millet’s insights into the beauty and simplicity of the labour of those who spent every day lovingly working on the land and in the home.
I found the Rimini insight into Millet and his work deeply moving. This was helped by the passion of the young man who served as our guide to the exhibition.
One of the lasting images from the exhibition is “the knitting lesson” pictured above. The video below gives an insight into the beauty and simplicity of the work.