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Youth in Normandy

Jean-François Millet was born on October 4, 1814 in Gruchy, near Cherbourg, into a close-knit family of modest peasants without being poor. This family consisted of a widowed grandmother, her son and his wife and eight children. They had a taste for reading and a respect for knowledge. He will receive a solid education there and his culture will, throughout his life, be the admiration of his friends and visitors. His father realized that his son had a strong gift for drawing:

"My poor François, I can see that you are tormented by this idea; I would have liked to send you to be instructed in this trade of painter which is said to be so beautiful, but I could not; you are the eldest of the boys and I needed you too much; now your brothers are growing up and I don't want to prevent you from learning what you so much want to know."

In 1833, he enrolled him in Cherbourg in the studio of a painter from the school of David, Mouchel. After the death of his father, he joined the studio of Langlois, a pupil of Gros. But Langlois felt that he could teach nothing to Millet, so he approached the municipal council of Cherbourg, which granted him, in 1837, a scholarship so that he could do the Beaux-Arts at Paris.

This period of Millet's life remains firmly anchored in his heart:


"Peasant I was born, peasant I will remain".

Away from his native Normandy, he often thought of it with great nostalgia. He had a special relationship with his grandmother, who had a huge influence on him. 


Portrait of Louise Jumelin, Millet's grandmother circa 1836

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