Starry Night Artist: Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875)

ca. 1850–65

European Art

On view, 2nd floor, European Art

Jean-François Millet may have painted this work shortly after he moved to Barbizon, an artists' colony south of Paris, in 1849. Retouched by the artist some fifteen years later, Starry Night is one of Millet's most dramatic experiments in nocturnal landscape. The composition and evocative light effects bring to mind Vincent van Gogh's famous painting of the same title (Museum of Modern Art, New York). Van Gogh may have been influenced by this painting, which he could have seen in Paris between 1873 and 1875; his admiration of Millet's work is well known.


Oil on canvas


unframed: 25 3/4 × 32 in. (65.4 × 81.3 cm)

Credit Line

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Atelier Millet (sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 10-11 May 1875, no. 32 [dated 1867]); Galerie Goupil, London; George Lillie Craik, London (since 1878); J.S. Knapp-Fisher, London (by descent).
  • Jean Mayet, Marie-Paule Laurent, and Nicole Laignel-Lavastine, De Millet á ses petites-filles: toute une lignée d'artistes (Louge-sur-Maire, France: Humusaire, 2012), 202–03, ill
  • George T.M. Shackelford et al., Millet: sessanta capolavori dal Museum of Fine Arts di Boston, exh. cat. (Conegliano, Italy: Linea d'ombra, 2005), 44–47, ill
  • Alexandra R Murphy, Jean-François Millet: drawn into the light, exh. cat. (Williamstown: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1999),
  • Zhengguang He, J. F. Millet (Shijiazhuang, China: Hebei jiao yu chu ban she, 1998), no. 60, ill
  • Louis van Tilbourgh et al., Millet, Van Gogh: Paris, Musée d'Orsay: 14 septembre 1998–3 janvier 1999, exh. cat. (Paris: Reunion des Musees Nationaux, 1998), 114–19, no. 53, fig. Cat. 53
  • Laurent Manœuvre, Millet: les saisons (Paris: Herscher, 1996), 42–3, ill
  • André Fermigier, Millet (Genéva, Switzerland: Skira, 1991), 116–20, ill
  • Shohei Iida, Mire meisaku 100-sen (Tokyo: Nihon Terebi Hosomo, 1991), 110–11, no. 51, ill
  • Alexandra R Murphy et al., Jean-François Millet, exh. cat. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1984), no. 132
  • Griselda Pollock, Millet (London: Oresko Books Ltd, 1977), 44–5, no. IV, ill
  • André Fermigier, Jean-François Millet (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1977), 124–26, ill
  • Robert L. Herbert, Michel Laclotte, and Roseline Bacou, Jean-Francois Millet : [exhibition], Hayward Gallery, 22 January–7 March 1976, exh. cat. (London: The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976), 171–72, no. 110, ill
  • Katherine Neilson and Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, Selected Paintings and Sculpture from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972), no. 74, ill
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, and Aaron Sheon, "French art and science in the mid 19th century," The Art Quarterly (1971), 434–55
  • Dario Durbe and Anna Maria Damigella, La scuola di Barbizon di Dario Durbée Anna Maria Damigella (Milano, Italy: Fabbri, 1969), 20–22, 79, ill
  • Francoise Forster-Hahn, French and School of Paris Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1968), 18, pl. 6
  • Robert L. Herbert, "Millet Reconsidered," Museum Studies 1 (1966), 29–55
  • "Recent Gifts and Purchases," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 28, nos. 2–3 (December 1962), 49
  • Yong Zheng, "Hazlitt Gallery," The Times (May 12, 1958), 14
  • T. Mullaly, "Barbizon School Paintings," Daily Telegraph and Morning Post (May 12, 1958), 10
  • Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, Millet; raconté par lui-même, 3 (Paris: H. Laurens, 1921),
  • Henry Naegely, J.F. Millet and Rustic Art (London: Elliot Stock Publishing, 1898), 124
Object copyright
Additional information


night sky stars


Stenciled lower right: "J. F. Millet"; red wax seal on the reverse: "Vente, J. F. Millet; handwritten label on the reverse: "This picture 'Nuit Étoilée' was sold at the sale/of Millet's pictures on 11th, May 1875/I bought it from Goupil on the 26th. of Feb: 1878/It was lined with a strong canvas. Placed on/ a panelled strainer at the suggestion of Holman/Hunt- by Mr. [?] Eatwell- on the 15th of February 1878/Mr. Eatwell took the seal from the old frame &/ stuck it on this one-/Geo. Lillie Craik."\r\n(Francoise Forster-Hahn. French Paintings and School of Paris Paintings in the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1968, p. 18).

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