Nude bather by the waterside
Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)

Nude bather by the waterside, Ca. 1846-1847.

Oil on panel., H. 0.18 m; W. 0.19 m

Signed lower left: Millet.
Bearing a printed label on the verso: Collection Claude Aubry and a handwritten inscription: Mr. Thirion.

Provenance: Collection Thirion
Collection Strölin
Collection Claude Aubry.


Lucien Lepoittevin, Jean-François Millet, 1971 et 1973, t. II, p. 63, fig. 49.

From 1845 to 1850, Millet took a special interest in nude painting and to which he devoted an important number of his pictures. This is an interesting period of his work, during which two seemingly incompatible tendencies are overlapping. On one side, Millet painted nudes and pastoral idylls close in spirit to Boucher and Fragonard. Alfred Sensier described the core of his style as manière fleurie. In the same years and mostly around 1848, some of Millet’s paintings are characterized by a growing naturalism. More serious and using generally darker colours, he created realistic and monumental figures. The present painting is part of this innovative tendency that would give Millet true fame from 1850 on.

Millet shows a bather resting her head on her hand and knee, one foot plunged in the water. It’s a naked peasant girl, painted with blunt realism and quiet dignity, without any literary reference, nor any anecdote. This figure is infused with an incredible sculptural presence that recalls the art of Michelangelo.