Nearly forty years ago, in 1981, a group of twelve Museum Members with an interest in prints and drawings established Print Forum. George Evans and Kent Anderson served as the group’s first president and vice-president, respectively. One of the Museum’s nine currently active support groups, Print Forum is among the longest standing.
We invite you to join us as each curator focuses on a single work of art, exploring both that object and how the object speaks to the collection as a whole, as well as to the chosen theme in particular.
In this first iteration, we examine the notion of still life as it has been treated in artwork across time.
Upon first glance, The Shepherdess by Jean-François Millet seems to represent a purely bucolic scene in rural France. Millet completed the etching in 1862, and in it, we see a woman knitting while her sheep graze in a field in the distance. She wears a cape, a bonnet, and sabots—wooden shoes associated with the lower classes in France. Her face is obscured by the shade of the trees growing behind the boulder where she rests. On her right, a dog keeps watch over the sheep. A sense of purposeful stillness pervades the scene. Despite the tranquility of the image, however, the setting and activities it depicts are closely related to ecological debates that took place in French society between the 1830s and 1870s. One such debate centered on Fontainebleau Forest.