Jules Breton (French, 1827–1906),
oil on canvas, 37 x 66 ½ in.; 93.98 x 168.91 cm
Museum purchase, 1984.47
Born in a small village himself, Breton drew lasting inspiration from the customs and traditions of rural France. His ambitious pictures of stately, dignified peasants working contentedly appealed to the wealthy urban establishment, and Breton received a succession of awards and honors. The Weeders perfectly exemplifies Breton’s Academic approach to painting. It is a subtle blend of realistic observation, elevated style, and romantic sentiment. By capturing the delicate mauves and roses of the twilight sky and the simplicity of these stooped figures, Breton transforms the activity of common field labor into a scene of poetic reverie.