Jean-François Millet was born in 1814 in Normandy. As a young boy, Millet showed a precocious interest in drawing and in 1838 he traveled to Paris to become a student of Paul Delaroche. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1840 and by 1842 his major influences were Poussin and Eustache Le Suer. During this time he was producing mainly mythological subjects or portraiture, at which he was especially adept.
Millet’s memories of rural life in Normandy compelled him to use peasant life as the subject for his work, a theme that would resonate for the remainder of his artistic career. Toward the end of his career, he began to show some affinity for Impressionism.
Millet’s “Angelus” was widely reproduced in prints during the 19th century. Salvador Dalí was fascinated by this particular work and he wrote an entire book analyzing it, “The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus”. Dalí also included variations of this Millet work in many of his own paintings.