The J. Paul Getty Museum

Man with a Hoe

Object Details


Man with a Hoe


Jean-François Millet (French, 1814 - 1875)




about 1860–1862


Black chalk and white chalk heightening on buff paper

Object Number:



28.1 × 34.9 cm (11 1/16 × 13 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

Sometimes, in places where the land is sterile, you see figures hoeing and digging. From time to time one raises himself and straightens his back, ...wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. 'Thou shalt eat thy bread in the sweat of thy brow.' Is this the gay, jovial work some people would have us believe in? But nevertheless, to me it is true humanity and great poetry.

Thus wrote Jean-François Millet about his favorite subject, agricultural laborers. Despite his philosophical intentions, these subjects earned him accusations of Socialist leanings. When he exhibited Man with a Hoe at the Salon of 1862, it quickly became one of the most controversial pictures of mid-1800s France. He probably made this drawing as a preparatory study for that painting, now also in the Getty Museum.

In this drawing, Millet concentrated on the man, showing his face as less brutish, less exhausted, and more defined than in the finished painting. He used subtle additions of white chalk to render the clouds in the sky and the sun's highlights on the farmer's shirt. Drawn on buff paper, the entire scene has a soft, hazy quality achieved with a technique known as stumping.


Atger [sold, Pillet, Paris, March 12, 1874, lot 67]


Anne Wertheimer, German, 1898 - 1981


Christian Humann, Switzerland


Bruce Livie, [Arnoldi-Livie, Munich]


Heirs of William H. Crocker, American, 1861 - 1937

J.F. Millet Dessinateur (January to February 1938)
  • Galerie Hector Brame (Paris), January to February 1938
Jean-François Millet et ses amis-peintres de Barbizon (August 15 to December 6, 1970)
  • The Seibu Museum (Tokyo), August 15 to September 30, 1970
  • Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (Kyoto), October 4 to November 7, 1970
  • Cultural Centre (Fukuoka), November 12 to December 6, 1970
A Collection of Nineteenth Century French Drawings (May to June 1982)
  • P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., London, May to June 1982
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
The Compositional Drawing from the 16th to the 19th Century (April 16 to June 30, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1996
Jean-François Millet: Drawn into the Light (June 20, 1999 to April 23, 2000) (catalogue by A. Murphy)
  • The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown), June 20 to September 6, 1999
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), October 26, 1999 to January 9, 2000
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
Defining Modernity: European Drawings, 1800-1900 (June 5 to September 9, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 5 to September 9, 2007
Jean-Francois Millet (October 12, 2017 to January 21, 2018)
  • Palais des Beaux-Arts (Lille), October 12, 2017 to January 21, 2018
Peasants in Pastel: Millet and the Pastel Revival (October 29, 2019 to February 1, 2021)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 29, 2019 to February 1, 2021
Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




People at Work

Students create a work of art and write a story based on a photograph and photograph their own hands with tools.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Long-Term Unit