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Fin du travail (The End of the Working Day)

Jules Breton

European Art

Jules Breton portrayed rural laborers, frequently young women, as dignified, majestic, and, above all, poetic. Here, bathed in the glow of the setting sun, three women cross flowering fields, their postures evoking those of ancient classical sculpture. Breton’s rosy sentimentalism and his visions of earthly and female fecundity—produced for the urban gaze—earned him both critical praise and commercial success.

Many critics contrasted what they perceived as Breton’s optimism with Jean-François Millet’s savagery. As one described in 1868, “M. Breton never forgets that he is an artist. . . . He achieves results that are more sympathetic and seductive to the public of the city. He is little smitten with reality and generally horrified by the peasantry. M. Millet, on the other hand, has consistently taken the part of brutal reality.”
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1887
    DIMENSIONS 33 1/16 x 47 1/4in. (84 x 120cm) frame: 45 1/2 x 59 3/8 x 4 3/4 in. (115.6 x 150.8 x 12.1 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower right: "Jules Breton/Courrières 1887"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 35.867
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness
    PROVENANCE Circa 1887, acquired from the artist by Bulla Freres et Jouy, Paris, France; September 26, 1887 purchased in Paris from Bulla Freres et Jouy by Knoedler Gallery, London, United Kingdom; February 6, 1889, purchased from Knoedler Gallery by Latham Avery Fish of Brooklyn, NY; September 21, 1909, inherited from Latham Avery Fish by Anna Elizabeth Wood Fish of Brooklyn, NY; between 1911 and 1919, provenance not yet documented; by 1919, acquired by Knoedler Gallery, New York, NY; 1919, purchased from Knoedler Gallery by Edward Harkness of New York; March 8, 1935, gift of Mary Stillman Harkness (Mrs. Edward S. Harkness) to the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Jules Breton (Courrieres, France 1827 - 1806, Paris, France). Fin du travail (The End of the Working Day), 1886-1887. Oil on canvas, 33 1/16 x 47 1/4in. (84 x 120cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 35.867 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.867_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 35.867_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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