Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent by Jean-Francois Millet was painted in 1841 in oil on canvas. The portrait depicts the wife of one of Millet's friends, Félix-Bienaimé Feuardent, and was painted shortly after Feuardent and Louise-Antoinette were married . Although the overall atmosphere is rather dark and austere, the Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent is quietly joyful. Millet brings the viewer's eye straight to her wedding ring, which is illuminated on her pale hand with her skin contrasting luminously against the rest of the dimly lit room where she stands.
French artist Jean-Francois Millet's paintings primarily focused on Realism, with much of his work centred around capturing the day to day life of rural French farmers, and later in his career, bringing authenticity to the countryside landscapes around him. A founding member of the Barbizon School of artists, Millet and his contemporaries were interested in focusing on tonality and soft, languorous brushwork that captured the hazy realism of life working in rural France during the mid 1800's. The Realism movement and Barbizon School stood at the opposite end of the spectrum to the other popular artistic movement at the time of Romanticism. Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent forms part of his early career, where he primarily worked as portrait painter, leaving behind the farming community where he grew up to pursue his dreams as an artist in Paris.
Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent was painted in oils, Millet's preferred medium, although he would later also experiment with etchings, drawings and pastels too. The demure figure of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent stands with her face turned to the artist, her body turned modestly away. Millet uses a limited colour palette to capture her likeness, with the simple black top to her dress and white embroidered collar blending into the softness of the dark background behind her. The placidness of her expression and the assured poise of her posture captures a woman of virtue, newly married and ready to begin this new chapter of her life. As well as commissioning Millet to paint this portrait of his new wife, Feuardent also commissioned a further pendant portrait of himself by the artist also.
Enjoying success during his lifetime despite his humble beginnings, Millet would later become a source of inspiration for other great artists too, including Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. For those wishing to see Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent, it is currently exhibited in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
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