whereon thou standest is holy ground

One viewer who did not dismiss Millet was Vincent van Gogh. In 1875, he visited a large auction show of the artist’s late pastels. Van Gogh, who had not yet fully embraced his own artistic vocation, was smitten. When he entered the room, he later wrote his brother Theo, “I felt something akin to: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Van Gogh was not alone in his reaction. Millet’s pursuit of humble subject matter and his skill as a draftsman would influence artists for decades. Pastels facilitated his innovations with perspective. Requiring no drying time, they were easy to rework, encouraging spontaneous expression. They also made him a virtuoso of green. “Path Through the Wheat” (c. 1867) abounds in sunlit grassy hues. Forest tones anchor two companion pieces, “Primroses” and “Dandelions” (both 1867-68), which Millet seems to have composed while lying on his stomach in the shade.

~ M.J. Anderson, from ‘French Pastels: Treasures From the Vault’ Review: Delicate and Delightful. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts presents works by Degas, Millet and others, rarely shown due to the fragility of their powdered surfaces. (wsj.com, July 14, 2018)


  • Photo 1: ‘Path Through the Wheat’ (c. 1867), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 2: ‘Primroses’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 3: ‘Dandelions’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet


  1. i can surely see why he had that reaction, and i wasn’t familiar with him, but i find the dandelion piece especially wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You never cease to amaze me…. Love Millet, have seen exhibitions with works by him, Degas, Monet, and others (there ARE certain advantages of living in the Paris region! 😉 – am in total agreement with those words too. The images make you think of going to fetch a slightly humid cloth and carefully, very carefully brush off the dust of a loooong time…. made me nearly sneeze!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m familiar with Millet, but I’d not seen his pastels. Somehow, the medium fits the subject matter. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Millet!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Simply amazing … nature soothes me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ohhh, have GOT to get down to the MFA pronto. Have always been a Millet fan. His drawings are exquisite, too….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you, David for bringing us this beauty! So touching that Van Gogh could express appreciation so profoundly. Love Millet, who so clearly loves the earthy as it merges with spiritual beauty. Anyone seen Agnés Varga’s film, The Gleaners and La Glaneuse (not sure of the title)?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nothing I love more than when one artist expresses his appreciation for another. And these pastels… wow…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks David, reports to art site. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. David, are you alright? Hols, hospital, just off by the heat, unable, disabled, fed up?????

    Liked by 1 person


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