Few artists of the nineteenth century created works as subtly evocative, as socially poignant, and as artistically influential as Jean-Francois Millet. This book examines Millet's technical and creative achievement, focusing on his rarely seen pastels, watercolors, and drawings, considering them as independent works of art, as procedural steps toward paintings, and as important elements in his finished pictures.Alexandra Murphy explores the ways that Millet reinvented his art and reshaped the course of nineteenth-century painting in the process. Through his shift away from idealized nudes of the academic tradition to nudes in a real world, his confrontation with the physical landscape of work, and his perception of light and weather conditions that altered the landscape, Millet's pastels, watercolors, and drawings had a profound impact on his artistic contemporaries. Counted among his particular admirers were Degas, Seurat, Pissarro, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, who described an exhibition of Millet's pastels as "holy ground". In this context, Murphy discusses Millet's most famous painting, The Gleaners, which not only represents a technical and aesthetic achievement but also serves as an essential symbol of the political causes of the time: Millet's peasants have held their place in social history, she says, because they are so beautifully drawn that their gestures speak across decades, nations, and cultures.