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He did not even adorn his subjects with that special sort of idealism with which Millet embellished even his most uncouth rustic types, a slightly melancholy idealism obtained by a sombre toning down of colour, which Bastien-Lepage held in horror. His peasants stand out boldly, in the crude glare of flamboyant noontide, under a summer sun that refuses to leave hidden any part of their ugliness or their defects. He painted them as he saw them, with the searching rays striking them full in the face; and his brush was a stranger to any compromise, intolerant of even the slightest betterment, in the course of the literal transference of his model to his canvas.
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Whether he comes from the North or from the South, the tiller of the soil wages the same conflict with ungrateful furrows, the spade and the plough imprint the same calluses on his bony hands, the sun browns his energetic and stubborn features to the same deep tan. It is in this respect that the art of Bastien-Lepage assumes a higher significance; like Millet, it is not a peasant whom he paints, but the peasant, forever unchanging in spite of latitude. But if his work has attained this higher eminence of generalization, it is precisely for the reason that the artist's watchful eye has succeeded in discovering, in the life of the peasantry, that state of mind which is common to them all, that immutable gesture which they have always made and always will make.