William Adolphe Bouguereau
1825-1905 | French
Signed ‘W-Bouguereau-1895’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas
No other artist embodies the ideals of French Academic painting as perfectly as William Adolphe Bouguereau. A student of the neoclassical great, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, his works display an unsurpassed degree of finish and luminous coloration, distinctive hallmarks of the French Academy. This portrait of a young shepherdess leaning against her staff, glancing at the viewer with a coy smile, beautifully demonstrates the master’s genius for human anatomy and ability to capture the nuances of personality and mood of his subjects.
Bouguereau's depictions of young peasant girls such as this are among the most desirable of his extensive oeuvre. With their idealized subjects and meticulous attention to detail, these paintings were highly sought after by his wealthy, mostly American, collectors throughout his long career. He was particularly adept at capturing the ideals of beauty, purity and hope, which were central to his artistic philosophy, without being overly sentimental.
Unpretentious and modest, Bouguereau became one of the most decorated artists of the 19th century. He received medals from the Salon and Universal Expositions, successive ranks in 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 Salon of the Third Republic that it became unofficially known 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 Théâtre, Bordeaux and the chapels of Sainte Clothilde, Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Augustin, Paris. He also painted decorations for private mansions of the property entrepreneurs in Paris and La Rochelle. Bouguereau’s paintings are immensely popular in the United States evidenced by the fact that his works can be found in a number of public and private collections across the country.
This important work is pictured on page 373 of the catalogue raisonné William Bouguereau: His Life and Works, 2010, D. Bartoli and F. Ross.
Frame: 58 1/4" high x 43 1/4" wide
Canvas: 43 1/2" high x 29 3/4" wideArtist’s Museums:
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
National Gallery, London
Boston Museum of Fine Art
Palace of the Legion of Honour, San Francisco
Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 1976, E. Bénézit
The Random House Dictionary of Art and Artists, Random House, 1988
19th-Century Art, Robert Rosenblum & H.W. Janson, 1984
Bouguereau, William Adolphe
||43 1/4"W x 58 1/4"H
||29 3/4"W x 43 1/2"H
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