Millet and Modern Art

Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí is the full title for the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Produced in partnership with the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam, it celebrates the art and influence of French painter Jean-François Millet (1814–1875). This show opens to the general public on Sunday and runs until May. As these special art shows at the Saint Louis Art Museum go, this one was certainly one of the best that I’ve seen. It draws works from many different sources that comprise many different artists.

Millet is known as the father of Modern art and in his day was very famous. He attracted many disciples, who imitated his ideas. Now-a-days, their fame has come to eclipse that of Millet. No more ardent a disciple can be found than that of Vincent Van Gogh. This exhibit has multiple side-by-side examples of Millet’s original painting and a copy that Van Gogh made thirty years later. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and Van Gogh certainly wasn’t alone in this practice. Similar imitation is shown with many of the other artists too.

Pictured is a painting by Van Gogh called Starry Night. In this show it is displayed along side a somewhat similar looking painting by Millet, with an identical title. Unfortunately, my photo of the Millet painting did not turn out that well, so I cannot give you a side-by-side comparison. Like his fame, many of Millet’s artworks have not worn so well. Coincidently, Van Gogh has a much more famous version of Starry Night that hangs in New York and was painted the year after this one was made. The pictured Starry Night reminded Anne of our photos of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. 

This morning was the coldest day of the winter. It was only four degrees when I got up. There was no school scheduled today, because otherwise it would have been cancelled. It was so cold… How cold was it? It was so cold that the water company workers took the day off. It was too cold for them to dig holes. 

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