Song of the Lark Painting

WHO WAs jules breton?

Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton was born in 1827. He exhibited at the Paris Salon on numerous occasions, becoming a jury member.

artwork in context

Song of the Lark (1884) has become a famous example of rural life, the countryside, and naturalism in painting, following in the footsteps of other famous Realist artists like Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet.

historical overview

Breton produced numerous paintings during the 1800s that centered around the theme of rural life and labor. He was a prominent artist in Europe and America, beloved for his rural-themed scenes.

subject matter

Song of the Lark painting depicts a young girl standing with a sickle in her right hand (our left) on a narrow dirt path of what appears to be in a tilled field. Behind her is part of the golden orange Sun rising on the horizon.

subject matter

If we look at the background we are met with the rising sun in the far distance, and almost a third of the painting is composed of the sky, the other two-thirds of the painting consists of land.

subject matter

If we look closely, we might miss it; towards the upper left border of the composition is a small rendition of a bird flying in the sky.

color and light

Breton depicts his scene with neutral tones, such as browns, whites, greens, blue, which give an atmosphere of quietude and undoubtedly the still of the early morning.


The meaning lies in its title as much as it is in the early morning rendering. The Lark is a small songbird and has often been a symbol of “dawn” or “daybreak”, it gives us a clue as to what the girl in the painting is so seemingly enamored with.

in pop culture

Breton’s The Song of the Lark also left an imprint in pop culture, becoming the subject of a popular book by the American writer Willa Sibert Cather, titled similarly The Song of the Lark (1915).