From the moment when Jean-François Millet’s first version of The Sower went on view in 1850, the composition has been admired and criticized as a radical work of art and a powerful political statement. Millet was among the first to depict the French peasant as a heroic archetype rather than rustic buffoon or picturesque accessory, at a time when the French establishment feared the threat of both urban and rural popular uprisings. The painting’s artistic radicalism lies in its rejection of descriptive detail and low viewpoint, resulting in a composition of brutal simplicity. This painting is Millet’s third rendition of the subject, left unfinished at the time of his death.


  • Title: The Sower
  • Creator: Jean François Millet
  • Date Created: after 1850
  • Physical Dimensions: h: 41 1/2 x w: 33 3/4 in. (work), h: 54 x w: 46 x d: 4 1/2 in. (frame)
  • Type: oil painting (visual work)
  • Rights: Public domain
  • External Link: View this work at cmoa.org.
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Credit Line: Carnegie Museum of Art, 19th Century or Earlier Painting Purchase Fund and with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel B. Casey and Mr. and Mrs. George L. Craig, Jr.
  • Accession Number: 63.7

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