Page:François-Millet.djvu/124

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JEAN FRANCOIS MILLET

ceiling, where his realism found fuller scope. He painted on it a gap in the blue sky, bordered by light clouds, and in it, flying children pursuing owls and bats ; all round ran a border from which stood out fowls on the spit, haunches of venison, melons, flowers, vases and musical instruments, all painted in perspective.

He soon left these mythological fancies and returned w r holly to his rough rural poems. In the Salon of 1864 he exhibited both the charming Shepherdess and her Flock, and the Peasants carrying home a Calf born in the Fields, which aroused fresh protests, jeers and carica- tures. The sceptical " society " public could not understand the importance which Millet's peasants attach to the smallest acts of life. They are wholly absorbed in what they are doing ; they believe in it absolutely. This did not harmonise with the dilettantism of Paris, nor with truth as it appears on the stage. Theodore Rousseau had the courage to write a severe letter to Theophile Gautier : " You have been exploring art since 1830," he said. " Sailing as on an ocean, you have doubled many capes, passed through many breakers ;

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