The Hard Lesson 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 Hard Lesson was finished by William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1884 and it boasts the traditional style of this famous and highly skilled realist artist

The sweet young girl found in this painting was used by Bouguereau on several occassions. In other compositions she would be joined by others, as if to suggest them as sisters. One aspect which is also typical of Bouguereau, but perhaps not in a positive aspect, is the girl's feet which seem unusually large for someone of her age and build. You will see the same in several other paintings by this artist.

Wholesome is the word to describe the common themes throughout this artist's work and here we find a young girl busy in her studies. His family's history was in olive and wine, which perhaps explains why so many of his paintings would make use of the stunning French countryside.

This charming portrait is currently in a private collection and has been away from the gaze of the public, sadly, for many years. There are large numbers of Bouguereau paintings which are in a similar scenario but thankfully his high level of productivity means there are also many in institutions across Europe. The academic style of this artist may not gain the amount of support as those of impressionists, for example, but there is still public backing for artists like William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

This portrait features a young girl sitting on a small step, with very modest background. In many of his other paintings there would be a garden scene but here he keeps it simple and just allows the full focus to fall entirely on the figure.