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Sotheby's New York to offer a group of Millet drawings in the 19th Century European Art Sale
Jean-François Millet, Le Jardinage, signed J.F. Millet (lower right), crayon noir and white chalk on paper, 13 1/2 by 18 3/8 in. 33.7 by 46.5 cm. Est. $150/200,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s 19th Century European Art auction on 3 November 2015 will include a group of drawings by one of the world’s premier peintre-dessinateurs (painter-draftsmen) Jean-François Millet. This remarkable group of works on paper and on canvas reveals the artist’s process for some of his most significant paintings of his career including a study for his most celebrated and iconic painting of 1857, The Gleaners. The 19th Century European Art exhibition is on view at Sotheby’s New York headquarters 30 October - 2 November 2015 ahead of the 3 November auction.

A highlight of the group to be offered in the auction, Les glaneuses (est. $300/400,000) is the largest of the finished drawings and the culmination of seven years and over two dozen sketches in preparation for his major painting, The Gleaners, at the Musée d’Orsay. In this drawing, Millet has discovered the posture that best symbolizes the struggle of the gleaners who gather grain remaining from the harvest as he shows one of the figures steadying herself against the strenuous labor, placing her arm against her lower back.

Les glaneuses is followed by an important collection of drawings including Le jardinage (est. $150/200,000), Le retour de la bergère (est. $60/80,000) and Les deux bêcheurs (est. $80/120,000). These beautifully rendered compositions cover twenty five years of the artist’s repertoire, including the significant period in which Millet lived in Barbizon. Le jardinage, in particular, is a strong example in crayon and chalk, demonstrating Millet’s interest in nature and ability to position his subjects. In this drawing, Millet profiles a husband and wife working in tandem in their garden, a scene that mirrored his own life.

Additional highlights include in the 19th Century European Art Sale include Anders Zorn’s masterpiece A Portrait of The Daughters of Ramón Subercaseax (est. $1/1.5 million) and Carl Kahler’s My Wife’s Lovers (est. $200/300,000). The sale also offers major re-discoveries such as Jean Leon Gérôme’s Prière dans la mosquée (est. $300/500,000), Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier’s Les Deux Amis (est. $150/200,000), and William Bouguereau’s Jeune fille aux raisins (est. $300/500,000), alongside significant paintings by John Frederick Herring Sr., Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Alfred Stevens, Julius Leblanc Stewart, Gustave Moreau and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

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