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.”Wikiquote
….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 .
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.
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).
William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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