Retreat from the Storm, ca. 1846
Jean–François Millet (French, 1814–1875)
Oil on canvas; 18 1/4 x 15 in. (46.4 x 38.1 cm)
Signed (lower left): J.F. Millet
Gift of Sarina Tang and Peter M. Wood, 2002 (2002.613)
A faggot gatherer clutches in one hand the day's harvest and in the other, her child. The impending storm is more than an inconvenience to these peasants whose subsistence depends on stray sticks. Throughout the 1840s, the number of homeless peasants increased dramatically in France, reaching a crisis in the recession of 1847 and contributing to the fall of King Louis-Philippe in the 1848 revolution. Millet's singular image, recalling Delacroix in its depth of emotion and Daumier in its graphic economy, portends the social forces that would soon erupt.
Although Millet would rework the composition for a canvas now in the Denver Art Museum, this is probably his first treatment of the theme.