Considered the finest of the French academic painters, William Adolphe Bouguereau's works are among the most renowned artworks of the 19th-century.
Deeply influenced by the classical tradition, Bouguereau is immediately recognized for his amazing portraits idealizing the human figure. A student of the great Neoclassical artist Ingres, his painting technique boasts an unsurpassed degree of finish and luminous coloration, hallmarks of the French Academy. His handling of the female figure displays a unique sensitivity, upholding a faith in the timeless beauty of the classical tradition. Although widely known for his mythological and religious subjects, his paintings of tender mothers and children are considered his grandest creations.
Unpretentious and modest, Bouguereau became one of the most decorated artists of the 19th century. He received medals from the Salons and Universal Expositions, successive ranks, including Grand Master, of the prestigious Legion of Honor, and was the leading member of the Institute of France and President of the Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. His art never deviated from the basic principles of Academic training, and he so dominated the Salons of the Third Republic that the official Salon became known unofficially as Le Salon Bouguereau.
In addition to the accolades of the art world, Bouguereau received many prestigious commissions to decorate public buildings including the Grand Thétre in Bordeaux and the chapels of Sainte Clothilde, Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Augustin in Paris. He also painted decorations for private mansions of the property entrepreneurs in Paris and his hometown of La Rochelle.
Bouguereau's paintings have become prized acquisitions, as evidenced by the prestigious museums that hold his masterpieces in their permanent collections. On the rare occasion that a painting by the virtuoso comes on the market, the event commands tremendous attention–a strange fact when considering just a few decades ago, the highest price ever paid for a Bouguereau was $17,000. Compare that to the current record of $3,526,000 paid for his breathtaking La Charité, and it is easy to see why Bouguereau is regarded by many to be the most important French academic artist of the 19th century.
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
National Gallery, London
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
New York Historical Society, New York
Boston Museum of Fine Art, Massachusetts
Palace of the Legion of Honour, San Francisco, California
Museum of Art, University of Michigan, Dearborn
The Chrysler Museum, Virginia
Philadelphia Museum of Arts, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
The Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas
Salon, Paris (Jury Member)
Paris Exhibition Universelle
Société des Artistes Français (President)