Gruchy, near Cherbourg
Born into a family of peasants. He studied with Bon Dumoucel and J.-C. Langlois in Cherbourg from 1834 to 1836. In 1837 the city of Cherbourg granted him a scholarship to study in Paris, where he entered the atelier of the history painter Paul Delaroche. He exhibited unsuccessfully at the Salon of 1840 and concentrated on portraiture at this time to earn a living. It was in 1848 that he exhibited his first peasant subject, the theme on which his artistic fame would rest. In 1849 Millet moved to the village of Barbizon, where he would live for the remainder of his life. He continued to live in poverty until 1860 when dealers began to be interested in his work. Official recognition began with the showing of nine paintings at the Universal Exposition of 1867. Although associated with the Barbizon school of landscape painting, Millet was primarily interested in the depiction of the figure. His art greatly influenced other nineteenth-century artists, notably Vincent van Gogh and Jozef Israels.