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Two Cows

Jean-François Millet

Artwork Details

Two Cows
Jean-François Millet
drypoint and roulette on pale blue laid paper
3 5/8 in x 6 in (9.21 cm x 15.24 cm);3 5/8 in x 6 in (9.21 cm x 15.24 cm);14 1/4 in x 19 1/4 in (36.2 cm x 48.89 cm);5 1/4 in x 8 1/16 in (13.34 cm x 20.48 cm)
Museum Purchase

On Display

Not currently on display


Gallery Rotation Spring/Summer 2012
Jean-François Millet
France, 1814–1875
Two Cows
circa 1847–1855
Etching, drypoint, and roulette
Museum purchase, 1930.18
Millet and Pissarro were important printmakers and contributed to the revival of interest in printmaking in France in the second half of the nineteenth
century. Millet brought to his work an emphasis on line as well as a nuanced tonal quality and a concern with printing effects: the printed impressions of his Two Cows can be tremendously varied in their inks and papers.
Pissarro was a prolific printmaker and his Haymakers, an important subject for the artist, shows his debt to Millet’s imagery. He too was attentive to the printing process and his impressions are often annotated; the inscription on the Vachere au bord de l’eau (cowherder at the water’s edge) indicates that it was an artist’s proof (epreuve d’artiste). This was a work of art in its own right, not one in a series of steps towards a final state of the image. The deep contrasts
of light and dark in this version give it an elegiac quality.

Subject Matter:

Millet's views of rural life often had a nobility although he did not glamorize or idealize the harshness of country life. This impression does still have some of the burr of drypoint, but there are other impressions that are much darker and richer. Millet also varied the color of the ink and how the plate retained ink in order to convey differences of atmosphere.

Physical Description:

A shepherdess stands between two cows who are grazing at the center of the image. In the foreground is the indication of a rough track leading towards the distance at left. At the right is a woman bending over beneath a tree.

Usage Rights:

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