Millet and his peasants in St. Louis

In the 1850s, Millet centers on the French peasantry, a surprisingly new subject given its abundance, and he doesn’t present the humble, often achingly poor as rural burlesque. That’s the take of Bruegel or the Dutch genre painters. And he doesn’t make them rococo props, as Boucher, Fragonard, and Watteau do. Rather, Millet shows them stoic and prayerful in the context of hard work that exhausts them but also makes them strong and tough