William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Girl With a Pomegranate (1875)

Girl with a pomegranate, by William Bouguereau (1875)

Who Is William-Adolphe Bouguereau?

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 –1905) was a French academic painter who favored realistic genre paintings using mythological themes, thus making modern interpretations of classical subjects. Bouguereau explained his work in 1895,

“One has to seek Beauty and Truth, Sir!” As I always say to my pupils, you have to work to the finish. There’s only one kind of painting. It is the painting that presents the eye with perfection, the kind of beautiful and impeccable enamel you find in Veronese and Titian.”

Girl with a pomegranate, by William Bouguereau (detail)

According to Fred Ross on artrenewal.org:

….it was he [Bouguereau] who single handedly opened the French academies to women, and it was he who was arguably the greatest painter of the human figure in all of art history…  more importantly, he captured the tender and subtlest nuances of personality and mood. Bouguereau caught the very souls and spirits of his subjects much like Rembrandt .      

Girl with a pomegranate, by William Bouguereau (detail)

L’Orientale à la grenade

According to Sotheby’s,

Bouguereau seems to have been particularly fascinated by Egypt, and the girl’s intricate silver jewelry is typical of North African design (similar pieces are worn by the fellahs in his compositions of 1876 and 1880).  The gleaming red gems of her earrings complement the rich color of the pomegranate, its jewel-like seeds revealed by the girl’s peeling of the fruit.

Girl with a pomegranate, by William Bouguereau (detail)

Bad Blood : Meticulous Methods vs. “Accidents”?

The mutual lack of respect between (my beloved) French Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and Bouguereau is well known. Grace Glueck wrote of those French avant-garde attitudes in The New York Times in 1985, and she also described Bouguereau’s methods:

[Bouguereau] learned… how to do a canvas in the grand manner…the time-honored Old Master procedures that led to a finished work: preliminary sketches, then oil studies, then highly finished drawings for all compositional figures including drapery and foliage renderings; next, detailed oil studies of heads and hands; then a large cartoon to be traced onto canvas, and then the painting itself. Whew! We’re light years away from the spontaneous pigmental ”accidents” of the Abstract Expressionists, who would undoubtedly give Bouguereau a touch of apoplexy. 

The New York Times

Click for enlarged image:


Wikiquote contributors, “William-Adolphe Bouguereau,”, Attributed in: Jefferson C. Harrison (1986) French paintings from the Chrysler Museum. Chrysler Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, Ala.). p.45., https://en.wikiquote.org/w/index.php?title=William-Adolphe_Bouguereau&oldid=2385713 (accessed September 24, 2018).

Bouguereau (1895); Attributed in: Jefferson C. Harrison (1986) French paintings from the Chrysler Museum. Chrysler Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, Ala.). p.45.

Sotheby’s, Girl with a pomegranate, by William Bouguereau, (1875). Catalogue note, http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/19th-century-paintings-n08847/lot.27.html (accessed 23 Sept 2018).

Art Renewal Center, William Bouguereau Biography by Damien Bartoli with Fred Ross, https://www.artrenewal.org/Article/Title/biography-of-william-bouguereau#2, (accessed  September 24, 2018).

Grace Glueck, The New York Times, Art View: To Bouguereau, Art Was Strickly ‘The Beautiful‘, Jan. 6, 1985, https://www.nytimes.com/1985/01/06/arts/art-view-to-bouguereau-art-was-strickly-the-beautiful.html  (accessed 24 Sept 2018). hmmm……Strictly???

Wikipedia contributors, “William-Adolphe Bouguereau,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=William-Adolphe_Bouguereau&oldid=858598198 (accessed September 24, 2018).

Image credit

William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for Visiting 🙂


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Sunny says:

    So fascinating!🤩

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JMN says:

    I worry a little about a statement such as “There is only one kind of painting.” The close-up of the eyes is compelling. Much technique on display in Bouguereau, a hyper-finished approach perhaps foreshadowing modern photo-realism? Did he learn from Ingres, I wonder? These are the maunderings of a rank layman of the arts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. englepip says:

    I was not familiar with this artist at all but this work is beautiful. Thank you for drawing my attention to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your visit – thanks! 🙂


  4. lfpessemier says:

    I just want to say, I am so glad to find you.. Despite so much ugliness on the Internet, I can be sure to find something wonderful here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your words are a balm to my soul. Truly, thank you. ❤️


  5. pirkkotervo says:

    Thank You

    Yesterday I learned to peel the pomegranate


    Liked by 1 person

  6. stolzyblog says:

    beautiful Bouguereau & loving write-up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, stolzyblog! I appreciate your kind words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed reading this piece very much. It is interesting, how fashion dictates change, or vice versa. Why such a fantastic study as ‘Girl with Pomegranate’ was reviled by the impressionists, is beyond me. Beautiful art surmounts the ages in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

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