Noonday Rest (La Méridienne) (1866) is part of a series about the four times of the day (Quatre Heures du Jour). In this painting, a man and a woman sleep against a haystack after a morning of hard work.
Jean-François Millet, born in 1814, was one of the founders of the Barbizon School, in rural France. Associated to realism and naturalism, his work depicts the harshness of rural life, which appears dignified as implicitly opposed to the hectic activity of the industrialized world.
The same theme was reinterpreted by Vincent Van Gogh some years later, in The Siesta (After Millet) (1890).