The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Jean-François] Millet

Object Details


[Jean-François] Millet


Nadar [Gaspard Félix Tournachon] (French, 1820 - 1910)




Paris, France (Place Created)




Salted paper prints from glass negatives

Object Number:



26.3 × 19.7 cm (10 3/8 × 7 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

"Art is not a pleasure-trip, it is a battle, a mill that grinds," remarked the painter Jean-François Millet. Born into a peasant family of modest means, Millet celebrated the dignity of manual labor and the humanity, endurance, and piety of the field worker in his paintings. Nadar's portrait of Millet perfectly corresponds with a contemporaneous description of him as "a long, strong, deep-chested man with a full black beard, a grey eye that looks through and through you." Among his intimates, however, Millet was amiable and occasionally serene.

Millet said of photographic portraiture that "this art would never reach perfection till the process could be performed instantaneously and without the knowledge of the sitter. Only in that way, if at all, could a natural and life-like portrait be obtained." Although he sat for other photographers, Millet may have had the stern formality of Nadar's portrait in mind when he made this statement, perhaps having a milder self-image than this picture gives.


Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

The Flowering of Early French Photography: Selections from the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (December 20, 1988 to May 7, 1989)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), December 20, 1988 to February 12, 1989
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), March 11 to May 7, 1989
Nadar/Warhol: Paris/New York (July 20, 1999 to May 28, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 20 to October 10, 1999
  • The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), November 6, 1999 to January 30, 2000
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), March 12 to May 28, 2000
Real / Ideal: Photography in France, 1847-1860 (August 30 to November 27, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2016

Baldwin, Gordon, and Judith Keller. Nadar Warhol: Paris New York: Photography and Fame. Introduction by Richard Brilliant. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 74.

Hellman, Karen, ed. Real/Ideal: Photography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century France, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), pl. 82.