Collections: European Art: Shepherd Tending His Flock

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Running Stream at San Cosimato

Bidauld earned a place among the pioneers of openair painting with a five-year stint working in the hidden corners of the Italian countrysid...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.


Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.


Shepherd Tending His Flock

The son of farmers, Millet understood both the reassuring cycle of the seasons and the frightening prospect of ruin at nature’s whim. From the late 1840s, he dedicated his career to a simultaneously heroic and bleak depiction of the peasants of Barbizon, the farming community outside Paris where he lived. Millet’s uncompromising representation of the French peasantry earned him the scorn of conservative critics. In this painting, Millet endows the shepherd with an imposing monumentality, bringing him to the foreground of the image, where he looms above the horizon line. Yet the figure hunches over his staff, his nearly featureless face gape-mouthed, perhaps with exhaustion or pain. And while Millet’s shepherd tends a large flock, the parched yellow and brown grass in the foreground has been interpreted as a suggestion of future scarcity. Other scholars have offered religious readings of the image, likening the shepherd to Christ.

  • Artist: Jean-François Millet, French, 1814-1875
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Europe
  • Dates: early 1860s
  • Dimensions: 32 3/16 x 39 9/16 in. (81.8 x 100.5 cm) frame: 41 5/8 x 49 3/16 x 3 1/2 in. (105.7 x 124.9 x 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
  • Signature: Signed lower right: "J. F. Millet"
  • Collections:European Art
  • Museum Location: This item is not on view
  • Accession Number: 21.31
  • Credit Line: Bequest of William H. Herriman
  • Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
  • Caption: Jean-François Millet (French, 1814-1875). Shepherd Tending His Flock, early 1860s. Oil on canvas, 32 3/16 x 39 9/16 in. (81.8 x 100.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of William H. Herriman, 21.31
  • Image: overall, 21.31_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
  • Record Completeness: Best (84%)
advanced 110,671 records currently online.

Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."

Recent Comments
09:52 06/2/2011
things work together
rolling against one, perhaps -
years, years and with time dragged out
and the earth gets harsh and the rain ceases
and nature blows cold comfort into the air
and commerce and middlemen
and consumers all drive a hard bargain
and yet, yet…
though time will carve out one a solitary life
for the one who lives by the land -
a hard one, a life of tiresome hours and a weary body
one must find it within,
one must lean on one’s staff if need be
and one must look within
and draw from there
even there within oneself
one’s strength, one’s poise,
one’s way in this wide, engaging world
even in this barren world

Please review the comment guidelines before posting.

Before you comment...

We get a lot of comments, so before you post yours, check to see if your issue is addressed by one of the questions below. Click on a question to see our answer:

Why are some objects not on view?

The Museum’s permanent collections are very large and only a fraction of these can be on exhibition at any given time. Sometimes works are lent to other museums for special exhibitions; sometimes they are in the conservation laboratory for study or maintenance. Certain types of objects, such as watercolors, textiles, and photographs, are sensitive to light and begin to fade if they are exposed for too long, so their exhibition time is limited. Finally, as large as the Museum is, there is not enough room to display everything in the collections. In order to present our best works, collections are rotated periodically.

How do I find out how much an object in the Brooklyn Museum collections is worth?

The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections.

Can you tell me the value of an artwork that I own?

The Museum does not provide monetary appraisals. To determine the value of an object or to find an appraiser, you may contact the Art Dealers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

I own a similar object. Can you tell me more about it?

Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you own and as much information about it as you can, and we will provide any additional information we are able to find. Please note that research in our files is a lengthy process, and you may not have a response for some time.

How would I go about lending or gifting a work to the Museum or seeing if the Museum is interested in purchasing a work that I own?

Please submit via e-mail a photograph of the object you would like us to consider, as well as all of the information you have about it, and your offer will be forwarded to the appropriate curator. The Brooklyn Museum collections are very rich, and we have many works that are not currently on exhibition; because of this, and because storage space is limited, we are very selective about adding works. However, the collection has become what it is today through the generosity of the public, and we continue to be grateful for this generosity, which can still lead to exciting new acquisitions.

How can I get a reproduction of a work in your collection?

Please see the Museum’s information on Image Services.

How can I show my work to someone at the Museum or be considered for an exhibition?

Please see the Museum’s Artist Submission Guidelines.

Why do many objects not have photographs and/or complete descriptions?

The Museum's collection is very large, and we are constantly in the process of adding photographs and descriptions to works that do not currently have them, or replacing photographs that have deteriorated beyond use and descriptions that are minimal or out of date. This is a long and expensive process that takes time.

How can I find a conservator or get advice on how to treat my artwork?

Please visit the American Institute for Conservation, which has a feature on how to find a conservator.

I have a comment or question which is not included in this list.

Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.