The Charity William-Adolphe Bouguereau Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The painting popularly known as The Charity was originally famous as La Charité but got translated in a marketing endeavour to market the painting and its imitations globally.

William Bouguereau, the French painter and draftsman who also respected for his teaching prowess, was the man responsible for this painting as well as many others like;

  • Petites Maraudeuses- Little Thieves
  • La Vierge aux Anges- the Virgin with Angels
  • La Vierge aux Anges (After Restoration) - Song of Angels
  • Jeunes Bohemiennes- Young Gypsies
  • Compassion! - The Compassion
  • Le Saintes Femmes au Tombeau- The Holy Women at the Tomb
  • La Bourrique- The Horseback Ride
  • Portrait de Gabrielle Cot- Portrait of Gabrielle Cot

The painting illustrates an impeccably stunning woman caringly embracing and protecting five children. She seems to be giving them sustenance and education. He nurturing demeanour is depicted by her bare breasts that seem to feed three of the younger children two of whom are interchanging. The act of being bare chested and with embracing arms suggests her philanthropy to the children and her selflessness to their needs.

Her intend to protect them seems to sink deep in the seemingly older children who are painted at her legs cradling while an overturned jug of gold and silver lies at her feet. The jug of immense wealth seems to declare her willingness to spend all her fortune for their well-being and joy. The boy sitting at her right foot is illustrated to be leaning on some books and glancing at a script.

Such an illustration was a symbol revealing her intentions to educate the children and give them the knowledge that would proof helpful in their lives. The symbolism employed in the painting is of generous amounts and seems to be the dominant tool of communication used by William Bouguereau in the La Charité.

All the contributory symbols were coined in The Charity by William Bouguereau are meant to pass a message of the charitable deeds and intentions of noble feminine roles over their offspring. Through the stunning imagery deployed, a true character of selflessness is advanced and glorified by Bouguereau.

The 1978 Oil on canvas painting features dimensions of 196 x 117 cm. Among all the globally famous Bouguereau paintings, sold for 3,600,000 US dollars making it a record holder for summer auctions of 2000.