How to tell Breton from Millet, and trying to settle the question as to which was the greater artist.
Some extraordinary paintings exploring transient and unusual effects of light, culminating in a retrospective, and his most radical work of all.
As the social message in his paintings faded, so they became brighter, and more appealing. Then he painted Ceres and dandelions…
Two of his most famous paintings were made in this period: The Gleaners, and The Angelus. Initial reaction was hostile, and neither became popular until after his death.
His style avoided sentimentality, showing life on the land as it really was. His paintings were faithful expression of what country life was really like for the poor.
Initially a portrait and history painter, he co-founded the Barbizon School in the late 1840s, turning to evocative scenes of poor country people.
His last great painting of crowds at a religious ceremony, and his first significant self-portrait. The final years of the eternally golden harvest.
Under pressure from his dealers, Breton concentrated on single figures in the countryside, typically at dawn or dusk. These have become some of his most popular paintings.
Dividing his time between his home in Courrières and Brittany, he broadened his range of subjects and views – with mounting success.
This period saw him concentrate on farmworkers toiling in the fields at dusk, and he discovered the coast and people of Brittany.