Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Jules Breton and End of the Working Day

'End of the working day' (1887) by Jules Breton; Brooklyn Museum, New York

I've grown to like Realist painters who depict scenes of work in the fields and the hardships of everyday life. The French painter Jules Breton, born on the 1st of May, 1827, is one of them. Breton left the village Courrières, where he was born, to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent and later on at the École des Beaux Arts. At first he painted historical subjects in the traditional academic style, but then his style evolved and he tried other subjects. He painted scenes reminiscent of his childhood in Courrières. These scenes from the peasant lifestyle and work ethic brought him fame. In today's painting you see three women at the end of a hard working day. I think it's a very strong image. You almost feel the air getting cooler now the sun has set and you feel yourself looking in the same direction as the woman in the middle, wondering if there is anything more to be done. With this painting Breton expressed his appreciation for pastoral beauty and he gives his peasant women almost a heroic and noble standing against their lower working class standing.

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