Young Girl Guarding her Sheep

This is one of Millet’s many paintings of shepherdesses, a type of figure he would have seen often near his home in the village of Barbizon, at the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau. The girl has brought her knitting to help pass the long hours, leaving the task of watching over the flock to her dog. Her industrious concentration, her centrality to the composition, and the sunny, pastoral setting suggest her harmonious coexistence with nature.


Comte Edmond Blanc (until 1862, his sale, Drouot, Paris, 7 Apr. 1862, no. 33, as Jeune fille gardant ses moutons); Paul Tesse; William H. Vanderbilt, New York (by 1879–d. 1885); George Washington Vanderbilt, his son, by descent (1885–d. 1914);¹ Cornelius Vanderbilt III, his nephew, by descent (1914–d. 1942); Grace Wilson Vanderbilt, his wife, by descent (1942–45, her sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, 18 Apr. 1945, no. 129, ill., as Shepherdess: Plains of Barbizon, sold to Knoedler); [Knoedler, New York, sold to Clark, 20 Apr. 1945, as Shepherdess: Plains of Barbizon]; Robert Sterling Clark (1945–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

1. George Washington Vanderbilt placed this and a number of other works on long-term loan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1886. The works were returned to his nephew in 1919.

Jean-François Millet

French, 1814–1875

Young Girl Guarding her Sheep

c. 1860–62

Oil on panel

15 x 10 13/16 in. (38.1 x 27.5 cm) Frame: 21 3/4 x 17 3/4 x 2 3/8 in. (55.2 x 45.1 x 6 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1945