Art Sunday: Jules Breton – The Song of the Lark


Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (1 May 1827 – 5 July 1906) was a 19th-century French Naturalist painter. His paintings are heavily influenced by the French countryside and his absorption of traditional methods of painting helped make Jules Breton one of the primary transmitters of the beauty and idyllic vision of rural existence.

Breton was essentially a painter of rustic life, especially in the province of Artois, which he quit only three times for short excursions: in 1864 to Provence, and in 1865 and 1873 to Brittany, whence he derived some of his happiest studies of religious scenes. His numerous subjects may be divided generally into four classes: labour, rest, rural festivals and religious festivals. Among his more important works may be named Women Gleaning, and The Day after St Sebastian’s Day (1855), which gained him a third-class medal; Blessing the Fields (1857), a second-class medal; Erecting a Calvary (1859), now in the Lille gallery; The Return of the Gleaners (1859), now in the Luxembourg; Evening and Women Weeding (1861), a first-class medal; Grandfather’s Birthday (1862); The Close of Day (1865); Harvest (1867); Potato Gatherers (1868); The Weeders (1868); A Pardon, Brittany (1869); The Fountain (1872), medal of honour; The Bonfires of St John (1875); Women mending Nets (1876), in the Douai museum; A Gleaner (1877), Luxembourg; Evening, Finistère (1881); The Song of the Lark (1884); The Last Sunbeam(1885); The Shepherd’s Star (1887); The Call Home (1889); The Last Gleanings (1895); Gathering Poppies (1897); The Alarm Cry (1899); Twilight Glory (1900).