Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875)
Oil on canvas
33 1/2 x 43 3/8 in. (85.1 x 110.2 cm)
Signed (lower right): J.F. Millet
Bequest of Lillian S. Timken, 1959 (60.71.12)
In 1868, Millet received a commission from Frédéric Hartmann, an Alsatian industrialist and patron of Millet's friend the artist Théodore Rousseau, to paint a series representing the Four Seasons. Millet worked on the commission intermittently for the next seven years.
In Autumn, with the harvest finished, the gleaners have departed and the sheep are left to graze. Beyond the haystacks lie the plain of Chailly and the rooftops of Barbizon. The work has the loose, sketchlike execution characteristic of Millet's late style: patches of the dark lilac-pink ground color are deliberately exposed, and the underdrawing is visible, particularly in the outlines of the haystacks and the sheep.