Thursday, January 20, 2022

Copying the Sheep Shearers

Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) wanted to paint a woman and a man shearing a sheep.

He started by sketching the scene in pencil on tone paper. The man who is holding the sheep is in the shadow of a tree, while the woman is in light.

He developed the idea into a color study. The woman wears a red skirt, a white apron, and a blue top. The man is still mostly in shadow, though now he's under a rustic awning instead of a tree. 

Millet adapted the idea to a larger composition. Now there are three spots of light: her cap, her right arm, and the sheep.

Van Gogh made a copy of Millet's painting, changing a lot of things. He unified the color of her outfit, lightened all the colors and focused more on the blue/yellow dynamic. The forms are outlined with dark, short, bent lines.

John Singer Sargent was interested in Millet's composition, and he made a sketch in pencil. Is it a copy of the Van Gogh or the Millet? To my eye, it seems closer to the Millet, but I'm not sure. 


Unknown said...

It does to me too,James!( This is Lynnwood,not unknown :)

Unknown said...

And Van Gogh's copy seems more like it was after the color study...from the cant of the woman's figure?

squeen said...

I think I must have a warped sense of good art, because my favorite is the original pencil sketch.

Unknown said...

That's not was a close call for me too, Lynnwood :)

SummaSummanum said...

Just based on the compositional details and framing, particularly top left-hand side, roof-top and the pillar, I would say it is related to the Van Gogh version.