|Jean-François Millet, Trussing Hay, 1850|
|Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Haywagon, 1830s to 1860s (?)|
|Theodore Rousseau, Landscape with a Plowman, 1860-1862|
|Gustave Courbet, Lunch Break During the Haying, 1867|
So the question might be asked, where were the vines? Not the planted vines but the painted ones. With vineyards planted to the horizon, you might expect to come across a wide variety of depictions. The 19th century was an expansive time for French landscape painters. Millet, Rousseau, and Corot amongst the Barbizon School. Gustave Courbet the Realist. Even Edouard Manet painted a bit of landscape. Landscape painting was a major undertaking of mid-19th century French art. And it would continue to be a major theme of the Impressionists towards the turn of the century. But you don't see vines amongst their work.
|Theodore Rousseau, The Large Oak Tree, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1839|
|Gustave Courbet, Forest in Autumn, 1841|
|Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Willows of Marissel, 1857|
|Jean-Francois Millet, Spring Landscape with Rainbow Sky, 1868-1873|
Admittedly the area around Barbizon, where several mid-19th century landscape painters worked, is more known for wheat fields and forest than vines. And it is true that I have seen two paintings from Millet that depict grapevines. But it is just those two that I can find from an entire 100 years of French landscape painting. Nothing from Courbet. Nothing from Corot. Nothing from Monet. No vines from Van Gogh. I'm not saying that vineyard paintings from these artists absolutely don't exist, and I am no art historian, but I certainly haven't been able to find others paintings that depict vines. And I have looked. Two paintings from Millet, an artist who lived to be 60 years old, is a very small amount of his total production. Two paintings from a century's worth of French paintings is pretty much almost none. Paintings of vineyards don't start to be a commonplace until the second half of the 20th century.
|Theodore Rousseau, Panoramic Landscape, 1831-1834|
|Jean-Francois Millet, The Cousin in Greville, 1855|
|Gustave Courbet, The Valley of Ornans, 1858|
|Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, The Vale, 1855-1860|
|Edouard Manet, Landscape with a Village Church, early 1870s|
It's surprising what was deemed to be pastoral. There were all those vines everywhere, but none made it onto the walls of the Salons. I can only imagine that the grapevines weren't deemed fit to be seen. Perhaps we train them differently now, because the way we look at them is clearly not the same.
|Nowadays we might assume that he is reading a treatise on soil composition.|