They appear to be discussing something animatedly and intimately with each other. The painting has a photograph like quality to it, attesting to its extreme realism. The two girls stand out in stark relief to the background.
The foreground is lighter while the background is dark, but green dominates. The location appears to be somewhere close to the sea as can be seen by a small glimpse of it at the top right corner.
The Nut Gatherers depicts the innocence, beauty, and joy of youth with these two girls. The surroundings are green and natural and they are obviously relaxed and enjoying themselves. One interpretation of this painting can be that childhood and innocence passes by quickly and we should try and capture these fleeting moments as best as we can.
The painting was completed in 1882. It is an oil painting and currently hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) in USA to which it was presented as a gift in 1954 by Ms Nina Amenda Downey, the wife of the late William E. Scripps.
The DIA has initiated travelling exhibition programmes since 2015, and one of the attractions to be displayed under this programme was The Nut Gatherers, which was shown in the Flint Institute of Arts and Midland Center for the Arts. After all, it has been the DIA's most popular painting for decades!
William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French artist whose paintings are a great example of academic art. Quite unlike most other artists, he was popular during his life time but declined in popularity after he passed away.
However, interest has been generated in his work again since the past three decades. One of the most interesting things about Bouguereau is that many of his more than 800 paintings are not available in the market, and their whereabouts are currently unknown. Because of this, there is a sustained interest in his work today.
Bouguereau was considered an expert in the painting of the human form and painted a lot of human subjects, most often, women and girls. He also took inspiration from mythological stories and his paintings such as The Birth of Venus and Bacchante were quite popular. In his later years, Bouguereau taught art at the Académie Julian in Paris. He had the opportunity here to teach students from all over the world, many of whom went on to become known artists.
Apart from his art, Bouguereau's major contribution to society was his belief that women should be allowed to learn and practice art. He used his influence to open many of France's artistic institutions, so far dominated by men, to women. These included such prestigious institutions like the Académie Française. For this alone, his contribution to the world of art should never be forgotten.