Becheurs (The Diggers) by Jean Francois Millet

Becheurs (The Diggers) by Jean Francois Millet

Becheurs (The Diggers)

Jean Francois Millet

Title

Becheurs (The Diggers)

 
Artist
Year
1855 -56 
Technique
etching, printed in a dark brown ink 
Image Size
9 1/4 x 13 5/16" platemark 
Signature
unsigned, as usual in this state 
Edition Size
not applicable 
Annotations
inscribed in plate in the lower right within image: Paris Imp. Aug Delatre R St. Jacque 171 
Reference
Melot 13; Delteil 13; L.14 
Paper
antique-white laid western paper 
State
iv/iv 
Publisher
Cadart 
Inventory ID
VH110 
Price
$4,500.00 
Description

"The Diggers" and "The Gleaners" are considered by many to be Millet's signature prints. Millet did a number of drawings and paintings of "Becheurs", all in the same period, around 1855.

C. H. Collins (Charles Henry Collins), wrote: "One of Millet's finest designs, this etching has a largeness of style and decorative purpose that would fit it to be enlarged to life-size. The spacing of the limbs, the emphasis given to rhythmic action and thrust-resisting lines are the outcome of profound science as well as of an instinct for great essentials. It seems improbable that the motif of this etching, the stubborn strength, the rude power of field labourers, will ever be better expressed pictorially. The character and life of these men is given us in this statement of, apparently, but a moment in their day. Their action and environment are made to carry a symbolic meaning; they typify a race of peasants. Thus Millet's work is monumental, giving once for all a general and enduring expression of peasant life and labour."

Baker, C. H. Collins (Charles Henry Collins), 1880-1959: Jean Fran├žois Millet, painter of labour [electronic resource]: XII scenes / (Toronto: Oxford University Press, H. Milford, [1916]).

In 1880 Vincent Van Gogh did a drawing of the subject and painted his own oil nine years later. Van Gogh discusses this in letter to his brother Theo on August 20, 1880: http://www.webexhibits.org/vangogh/letter/8/134.htm

For more information on Millet please see our Biography above.