Page:François-Millet.djvu/124

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JEAN FRANÇOIS 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 wholly 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 caricatures. 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 Théophile 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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