Page:François-Millet.djvu/44

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JEAN FRANgOIS MILLET

genius as an artist, assures to Millet his special place in French art of the nine- teenth century or, one might almost say, outside of that art. Few persons have felt this thoroughly. The comprehension of it demands a religious heart. It is not strange, therefore, that it should have struck Tolstoy, who in his book, " What is Art ? " after bringing so severe an indictment against civilisation, excepts Millet and ranks his Angelus, and still more his Man with the Hoe, among the few paintings " which impart the Christian feeling of love for God and one's neighbour," the works of art which may be called " religious," and which fulfil the words of St John : "The union of men with God and with one another." It is easily conceivable that such a view did not occur to the chosen minds of France. But the same reasons that set Millet apart from the chosen set him closer to the people, of whom he is almost the sole interpreter. It may be said that French art has remained no less aristocratic than in the seventeenth century, and that nothing links it to the main body of the nation. It is above all a Parisian art, and while the works of some few hundred dilettante

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