Although the subject of peasant life had been explored in the 17th century by the Flemish Masters, Jean-François Millet was the first artist to endow the peasants he painted with dignity and monumentality, making them almost heroic figures in his paintings. Born to peasants himself in Normandy, Millet did not begin his artistic training until he was 20 years old. After a long period of hardship in which he supported himself by painting portraits, Millet exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1840. The Winnower (now lost) appeared at the Salon of 1848 and was the first of his peasant pictures to sell. The following year, Millet moved to Barbizon, where he painted his most famous works. These centred on common peasants, but Millet's depictions transcended realism to show the dignity and nobility of his figures. After decades of struggle, he was awarded a medal at the 1867 Exposition Universelle and received the Legion d'Honneur in 1868. Millet's humanity toward peasant life was greatly influential on various artists, inclding Vincent van Gogh, Georges Pierre Seurat and Claude Monet.