When this painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1848, it was praised by the critic Gautier as having 'everything it takes to horrify the bourgeois'. It was purchased by Ledru-Rollin, who had been appointed Interior Minister of the new Republic that followed the Revolution of February that year. The roughness of the subject is matched by the energetic handling of the paint, conspicuous in the treatment of the blouse and hand of the winnower on which the light is mainly concentrated.

Both the colours worn by the winnower (red, white and blue) and the subject of winnowing itself (the act of separating the chaff from the grain), may have been intended to have a political meaning. The chaff is tossed into the air by the winnower, its glowing colour contrasted with the largely sombre tones elsewhere in the interior of the barn.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1814 - 1875
Full title
The Winnower
Date made
about 1847-8
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
100.5 x 71 cm
Inscription summary
Signed
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1978
Inventory number
NG6447
Location in Gallery