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Peasant Girl: Theben

Not on view

Peasant Girl: Theben

Artist: Francis Davis Millet (American, 1846 - 1912)

Date: n.d.a.
Medium: Graphite on cream-colored wove paper
Overall: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4in. (34 x 22.2cm)
Markings: signed on recto, in pencil, lower left.
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2004.9
Label Text
Millet probably made this drawing when he was in Theben in the fall of 1874. It is noteworthy for its careful, almost ethnographic attention to the details of the figure's picturesque costume as well as the activity it depicts. Theben is the historical German name for a village near Bratislava in western Slovakia that is known today as Devín. At this time Millet was working as a newspaper correspondent and published several letters that season in the Boston Courier describing his travels in Turkey, Romania and Hungary. During these years he was also becoming increasingly frustrated with the painterly style he learned several years earlier as a student at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. The precise draftsmanship of this drawing reflects that tendency and looks forward to his mature style, which can be seen, for example, in the Museum's 1888 painting, After the Festival, displayed in the second floor galleries.

Millet died at sea when the Titanic sunk in 1912. Two years later his paintings and drawings were sold in a public auction at the American Art Galleries in New York City. In the accompanying sale catalog this drawing was listed with a description that might not accurately reflect the circumstances of the peasantry Millet encountered in a country that only abolished serfdom in 1848: "Peasant Girl-Theben / Carrying strapped to her shoulders a nest of baskets or conical barrels, a pug-nosed peasant girl with spring in her step and supple body is walking cheerfully up a hill. The 'nest' much longer than she is tall, projects far above and in advance of her head."

February 2006