Aimé-Jules Dalou joined the revolutionary forces during the short-lived insurrection of the 1871 Paris Commune, following the collapse of the Second Empire. He escaped sentencing by exiling himself to England, where he remained until he was granted amnesty in 1879. He was later 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 ultimately never executed. Its base was to have included niches housing different types of workers. The artist made many studies glorifying manual labour, including this one of a farmer that came to light and was cast after his death. The robust, dignified man with a deeply lined face is rolling up his sleeves as he prepares to till the soil that sustains us all. “This is the future, the cult that will replace the mythologies of the past,” wrote this sculptor of modest background.