The Knitting Girl 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 Knitting Girl, or La Couseuse was painted by the French nineteenth century realist artist, William Bouguereau in 1869.

The painting is also fondly known within the art world asKnitting Annebecause of the natural and simplistic manner in which the painting captures the young woman.

Today, The Knitting Girl, can be found in Nebraska at the Joslyn Art Museum.The oil on canvas painting measures 57 inches by 39 inches.

It was during the middle of the 1860s that Bouguereau began to paint images of peasant girls and women in an idealised manner. The Knitting Girl is one such painting, and the first one in this genre.

Today this painting is by far the most influential representation of this group within society during the middle 1800s.

What we observe when we view The Knitting Girl, is a young girl sat on the ground, her back against a large tree trunk. She appears peaceful and to be enjoying the quiet contemplation of knitting in the fresh air.

She is wearing peasants clothing, of a simple style, and is barefoot. There is nothing extraordinary in her outward appearance, but Bouguereau has managed to paint her radiant beauty in such a simplistic and exquisite way.

What this painting evokes is that the everyday can indeed be beautiful.

Bouguereau was an academic scholar as well as a realist painter. He predominantly painted in two genres. He painted his idealised versions of everyday women, as shown in this painting, as well as the personification of goddesses taken from Greek literature and myths.

His peasant paintings idealised the female form, the female body, and he did so with the use of subtle hues and gentle lighting on the canvas. The Knitting Girl consists of soft browns, greys and greens. The only colour stems from the girl's face and her bare feet. Therefore, as an observers are drawn to her pretty face, sculpted mouth and twinkling eyes.

As Bouguereau was viewed as an academic painter, his art came under much scrutiny. Surprisingly, it was during the twentieth century that his art was criticised for using antiquated and outdated methods, whereas during the twenty-first century, his work was once again celebrated.