Exhibitions: About Time: 700 Years of European Painting

Jules-Adolphe-Aime-Louis Breton: The End of the Working Day

Jules-Adolphe-Aimé-Louis Breton (French, 1827–1906). The End of the Working Day, 1886–87. Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 35.867

Steeped in the eighteenth century's celebration of the virtues of the pastoral life, this painting offers a majestic, even heroic image of the peasantry of Breton's native Artois. With the close of their workday signaled by the glow of the setting sun, three women, pink-cheeked yet seemingly unsullied by their labors, cross flowering potato fields. Endowed with the powerful musculatures of classical figures, the women bear the weight of an impressive yield. The promise of a convivial gathering after their work seems to beckon in the distance to the right, where groups gather around smoky fires. Breton's blend of the purple thistles and the golden rays of the waning sunshine lends the work a rosy sentimentalism that earned the painter both critical praise and commercial success.