This painting is a reduced version of one of Breton's largest and most famous canvases, today in the Musée des beaux-arts, Arras, and exhibited at the Salon of 1857. The subject depicts an annual procession through the plain of Courrières, in which the priest, followed by his congregation, asks God for a bountiful harvest.
As a highly realist depiction of an actual event, featuring a multitude of individuals from the artist's native village, depicted in a frieze-like composition, it is not dissimilar to Courbet's epic Burial at Ornans. However, Breton's painting presents a far more optimistic world view, not only in terms of its subject, but also in its colouring and even light-hearted depiction of the some of the individual characters.
We would like to thank Annette Bourrut Lacouture for confirming the authenticity of this painting, which will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist.