Thoroughly secular and Republican, Dalou joined in with the Revolutionaries during the short-lived insurrection of the Commune of Paris in 1871, following the collapse of the Second Empire. After responding to the call of the painter Courbet, a Communard as well, Dalou escaped being condemned by exiling himself in England until he was granted amnesty in 1879. A realist sculptor and a friend of Rodin, Dalou was asked to create a monumental Triumph of the Republic in Paris. Seeing that the proletarian masses were excluded from the inaugural ceremonies in 1889, he conceived the idea of a colossal, 32-metre tall Monument to Labour, which was never executed. Its base was to have included niches housing different types of worker. The artist made many studies glorifying manual labour in factories, mines and fields – for example the celebrated farmer that came to light and was produced after his death. The robust man with a deeply lined face is rolling up his sleeves as, with dignity, he prepares to till the soil that sustains him. “This is the future, the cult that will replace the mythologies of the past,” wrote this sculptor of modest background.