Blessing of the Wheat at Artois
Painted by Jules Breton (1827 - 1906)
Completed in 1857, oil on canvas, 50.5 ins. x 125.25 ins.
Courtesy of the Musées des Beaux-Arts d'Arras, France
About this Painting
Quoted from "The Rural Vision, France and America in the Late Nineteenth Century"
By Hollister Sturges - Copyright © All Rights Reserved:
"....His most ambitious canvas up to this time, The Blessing of the Wheat at Artois....exhibited at the 1857 Salon, translates the customs of this rural community on an epic scale.....Breton gathered all segments of the village society in a religious ceremony.....in his rendering of a priestly procession on the plain of Courrières, Breton emphasized that the Christian faith of the Community was intact. In this ancient, rustic ritual intended to ensure the abundance of the harvest, the priest beneath the canopy carries the host in the monstrance out into the fields. Rural notables, village maidens, and others make up the procession, and as they pass, peasants kneel before them in pious gratitude. This epic picture emphasizes the social harmony of the agricultural community, which in turn brings forth the fruits of a bountiful nature."
In this painting I came to realize what I have tried to put into words and always feeling that the words fell hard on the paving stones. I see in this painting our basic yearning, need and desire to live as one. Like this Robert Frost poem:
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
- from Two Tramps In Mud Time.