The Cherbourg Peninsula was the birthplace of Jean-François Millet, who painted a large part of his works here. He is above all known as the leader of the Barbizon school, in the Forest of Fontainebleau. The countryside and buildings of La Hague greatly inspired him. His masterpiece The Sower, painted from memory at Barbizon, represents the hills of Gréville. Situated at the tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula, in the heart of wild scenery, Cherbourg has one of the largest artificial harbours in the world, at 4km long. The Cité de La Mer (City of the Sea) is a reminder of its maritime history.
Endowed with a very fine collection of paintings and sculptures from the 15th to the 19th century, the Thomas-Henry Museum of Art, at Cherbourg, was where Millet learned to paint, by copying the works of the masters. Today, the museum houses an important collection of works by the artist – notably some of his earliest paintings, including two portraits of his first wife and his wife’s family from Cherbourg.
The house where Jean-François Millet was born, in the hamlet of Gruchy, introduces the life of the painter through a mixture of audiovisual presentations, ethnographic objects, original drawings and reproductions. A walking tour from the house to Landemer allows you to explore the countryside painted by Jean-François Millet. Interpretive signs, which reproduce the artist’s paintings, line the route.
The church of Sainte-Colombe at Gréville-Hague, built between the 12th and 17th centuries, is the subject of a famous painting by Jean-François Millet housed in the Musée d’Orsay.
Barfleur is a small and picturesque port that has attracted numerous artists, including both painters and writers. Paul Signac lived here from 1932 to 1935, in a house marked by a plaque, facing the church. He was fascinated by the sea, and created – in watercolours – a large series of paintings of French ports, including Barfleur.