Artist. Born in Greville-Hague, Normandy, he was educated by village priests and his talent noted. In 1833, he was sent to Cherbourg to study with a portrait painter. In 1837, he moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He later returned to Cherbourg, where he painted portraits, but achieved his first success in 1844 with the bucolic 'The Milkmaid.' In 1848, his 'Winnower' was purchased by the government, and in 1849, he completed 'Harvesters' on their commission. That year, he exhibited 'Shepherdess Sitting at the Edge of the Forest,' which marked the turning point away from idealized pastorals in favor of a more realistic presentation. In that same year he moved to Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau, using the area as a subject for his work. He was instrumental in the creation of the Barbizon School. In 1850's Paris Salon, he exhibited 'Haymakers' and 'The Sower.' 'Harvesters Resting' (1853) won him acclaim and recognition. His most famous work, arguably, is 'The Gleaners ' (1857). His rural themed paintings attracted growing acclaim, and in 1857, he completed a commission for an American art collector, 'Prayer for the Potato Crop' which he altered to 'The Angelus' when the purchaser failed to take possession. In 1868, he was named Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur. In 1870, he was elected a member of the Salon jury before being forced to flee to Cherbourg as a result of the Franco-Prussian War. His health was damaged and his output slowed considerably, most of his later work had lost the human element that had made his reputation; 'The Gust of Wind' (1871), 'Priory at Vauville' (1873) and Haystacks: Autumn, (1874) were all landscapes. His realist, naturalist work is credited with paving the way for the Impressionist movement, and his work has been cited as an inspiration to artists Claude Monet, Andres de Santa Maria, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí.
Bio by: Iola