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The Weeders

Jules Breton (French, Courrières 1827–1906 Paris)

Date:
1868
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
28 1/8 x 50 1/4 in. (71.4 x 127.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900
Accession Number:
25.110.66
  • Gallery Label

    This is a smaller variant of a composition Breton painted in 1860 (Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha) and exhibited to wide acclaim at the Salon of 1861 and the World’s Fair of 1867 in Paris. In his autobiography, Breton described this twilight scene of peasants pulling up thistles and weeds—"their faces haloed by the pink transparency of their violet hoods, as if to venerate a fecundating star"—noting that he had discovered the subject as a "finished picture" near his native village, Courrières, in northern France.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): Jules Breton / Courrières 1868

  • Provenance

    Henry Probasco, Cincinnati (until 1887; his sale, American Art Association, New York, April 18, 1887, no. 96, as "The Colza Gatherers, Effect of Sunset with New Moon," for $16,600); S. A. Coale, Jr., St. Louis (from 1887); Collis P. Huntington, New York (by 1891–d. 1900; bequest to MMA with life interest to his widow, Arabella D. Huntington, later [from 1913] Mrs. Henry E. Huntington, 1900–d. 1924; life interest to their son, Archer Milton Huntington, 1924–terminated in 1925)

  • Exhibition History

    Chicago. World's Fair. "World's Columbian Exhibition: Fine Arts," May 1–October 26, 1893, no. 2876 (as "Colza-gatherers," lent by Collis P. Huntington, New York).

    Winnipeg Art Gallery. "French Pre-Impressionist Painters of the Nineteenth Century," April 10–May 9, 1954, no. 69 (as "Pulse Gatherers").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic," October 30, 1973–January 6, 1974, no. 30.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Musée d'Arras. "Jules et Emile Breton, peintres de l'Artois," October 16, 1976–January 10, 1977, no catalogue.

    Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Millet's Gleaners," April 2–June 4, 1978, no. 22.

    Hamburger Kunsthalle. "Courbet und Deutschland," October 19–December 17, 1978, no. 477.

    Frankfurt am Main. Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut. "Courbet und Deutschland," January 17–March 18, 1979, no. 477.

    Omaha. Joslyn Art Museum. "Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition," November 6, 1982–January 2, 1983, no. 14 (as "The Weeders [Les Sarcleuses]").

    Memphis, Tenn. Dixon Gallery and Gardens. "Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition," January 16–March 6, 1983, no. 14 (as "The Weeders [Les Sarcleuses]").

    Williamstown, Mass. Sterling and Francine Clark Institute. "Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition," April 2–June 5, 1983, no. 14 (as "The Weeders [Les Sarcleuses]").

    Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum Vincent Van Gogh. "Franse meesters uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art: Realisten en Impressionisten," March 15–May 31, 1987, no. 7.

    Fort Lauderdale. Museum of Art. "Corot to Cézanne: 19th Century French Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 22, 1992–April 11, 1993, no catalogue.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 48.

    Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19.Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 33.

    Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 33.

  • References

    Robert Jarvis. "Sketching from Nature." Art Amateur (July 1886), p. 30, fig. 6 (print), as "The Colza-Gatherers".

    "The Probasco Collection." Art Amateur (May 1887), p. 124.

    "The Sale of the Probasco Collection of Paintings." Art Amateur (June 1887), p. 25, reports that this painting was "ostensibly sold at the [Probasco] auction" but then "sold privately" to S. A. Coale.

    "Mr. Probasco's Paintings." New York Times (April 11, 1887), p. 5, as "Colza Gatherers—Sunset with New Moon".

    "The Probasco Paintings: Not Bringing as Much as Was Expected." New York Times (April 19, 1887), p. 5, reports that it sold for $16,600 at the Probasco sale, adding that "it is believed that this Breton goes to Erwin Davis" [see Ref. Art Amateur, June 1887].

    Walter Rowlands. "Art Sales in America." Art Journal, n.s., (1887), p. 295, as "Colza Gatherers"; notes that it brought [the American equivalent of] £3,320 at the Probasco sale in 1887.

    Jules Breton. The Life of an Artist: Art and Nature. New York, 1891, ill. opp. p. 244, as "The Colza Gatherers," in the collection of C. P. Huntington, New York.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 180–81, ill., as "The Weeders (Les Sarcleuses)"; call it a replica with minor variations of the painting of the same title shown in the 1861 Salon (Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha); suggest that the MMA painting may have been commissioned when the original was shown at the 1867 World's Fair; note that there is a preparatory oil sketch (location unknown).

    Albert Boime. The Academy and French Painting in the Nineteenth Century. London, 1971, p. 107, fig. 73, as "Pulse Gatherers".

    Carl R. Baldwin. "The Salon of '72." Art News 71 (May 1972), p. 20, ill., states erroneously that this picture won the Medal of Honor in the Salon of 1872.

    Jean Bouret. L'École de Barbizon et le paysage français au XIXe siècle. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1972, p. 265, ill. p. 248.

    Gregory Hedberg in Millet's Gleaners. Exh. cat., Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Minneapolis, 1978, pp. 9, 11–12 n. 4, p. 46, no. 22, fig. 1, compares it to Millet's "Gleaners" (1857; Musée d'Orsay, Paris), commenting that Breton depicts individualized figures captured at a specific moment in time, while Millet's figures are more anonymous and dignified, and his image more eternal.

    Madeleine Fidell Beaufort. "'Fire in a Haystack' by Jules Breton." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 57, no. 2 (1979), p. 61, fig. 8.

    Annette Bourrut-Lacouture in Hollister Sturges. Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition. Exh. cat., Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, 1982, pp. 30, 42.

    Candace Clements in Hollister Sturges. Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition. Exh. cat., Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, 1982, pp. 74–76, 96, 135, no. 14, ill.

    Madeleine Fidell-Beaufort in Hollister Sturges. Jules Breton and the French Rural Tradition. Exh. cat., Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, 1982, pp. 56, 61 n. 45.

    Sjraar van Heutgen et al. in Franse meesters uit het Metropolitan Museum of Art: Realisten en Impressionisten. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1987, pp. 10, 17–18, 40–41, no. 7, ill. (black and white and color).

    Roger Hurlburt. "Free Spirits." Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) (December 20, 1992), p. 4D.

    Albert Boime. The Art of the Macchia and the Risorgimento: Representing Culture and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Italy. Chicago, 1993, p. 110, fig. 3.21, as "Pulse Gatherers"; notes that the artist "tend[s] to idealize and even trivialize work and those engaged in it".

    Linda Nochlin. Courbet. New York, 2007, p. 215 n. 30.

    Susan Alyson Stein in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 81, 216, no. 75, ill. (color and black and white).

    Susan Alyson Stein in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 72, 183, no. 48, ill. (color and black and white).

    Maite van Dijk in Van Gogh and the Colours of the Night. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2008, pp. 113, 153, fig. 77 (color).

    Chris Stolwijk in Van Gogh and the Colours of the Night. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2008, p. 26.



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