The Sower

Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875)

Catalogue Raisonné

Murphy 18


101.6 x 82.6 cm (40 x 32 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

The Beal Gallery (Gallery 251)





Jean-François Millet was the artist that van Gogh most revered. Although he never saw Millet’s famous Sower - already in a Boston collection before he was born - van Gogh admired Millet’s other treatments of the theme, and sought to emulate them. At the very beginning of his career, he wrote that “I must draw diggers, sowers, men & women at the plough, without cease… I no longer stand as helpless before nature as I used to do.”


Lower left: J. F. Millet


About 1851/1852, sold by the artist to William Morris Hunt (b. 1824 - d. 1879), Boston [see note 1]; 1874, sold by Hunt to Doll and Richards, Boston, for Quincy Adams Shaw (b. 1825 - d. 1908), Boston; 1917, gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr. and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton, to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 29, 1917)

[1] Alexandra R. Murphy, "Jean-François Millet" (Boston: MFA, 1984), pp. 31-34, cat. no. 18.

Credit Line

Gift of Quincy Adams Shaw through Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., and Mrs. Marian Shaw Haughton