William-Adolphe Bouguereau Paintings 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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Bouguereau was preoccupied by the eurhythmies of the human body and by following the footsteps of ancient painters; he was able to produce high quality work.

Bouguereau produced many paintings such as the Evening mood, Virgin with Angels, The Shepherdess, the Birth Venus and many other famous painting he created.

Some of these painting have survived in their original form while others have been redone while maintaining the original theme. In all these paintings, his artistic skills and techniques are evident.

Bouguereau received commissions to decorate public buildings, private houses and churches by doing his work in academic style and excelling in salons.

Sometimes he would use his own style to paint and at times employ the existing styles from other groups. He also preserved his public painting to sell to the patrons such as The Annunciation (1888). Bouguereau also painted many portraits successfully even though they were for wealthy patrons and up to date they have remained in private hands.

Bouguereau incorporated traditional painting methods to come up with his painting. These methods included oil sketches, detailed pencil studies and organizing his work carefully.

As a result, his work was accurate and pleasing depicting various human forms. His hands, skins and feet painting were admired in particular. He also employed erotic s and religious symbolism depicting old masters like “broken pitcher” that indicated lost innocence.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French traditionalist and academic painter. He was born in La Rochelle November 30th 1825 and died on august 1905. His family were merchants of olive oil and wine. He was supposed to join his family business but his uncle Eugene, an accurate, taught him biblical and classical subjects and he finally arranged for him to attend high school classes.

Bouguereau was able to show his artistic talents at an early age and his father was persuaded by a client to enroll him to the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. He was able to win his first prize in professional painting by depicting Saint Roch. He also designed labels for preserves and jams to earn extra money.

Through connections by his uncle, he was granted a commission to draw and paint portraits of the parishioners and his aunt added the amount he had earned so that he could become a student at Ecole Des Beaux-Arts. In order to supplement his formal drawing training, he enrolled in anatomical dissections and attended archaeology and historical costumes. He was later admitted to the to the Franccois-Edouard Picot studio, where he learned how to paint in academic style.

Academic painting those days had high status on mythological and historic subjects. He won the popular Prix De Rome in 1850 with his painting Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes. He was rewarded by staying at the Villa Medici in Rome, Italy, where additionally he was able to learn first-hand about the Renaissance and their art work.

By observing his art work, Bouguereau had the knowledge of contour and natural instincts.

Through painting, Bouguereau quickly attained the honors of the academy and by 1876 he had attained the position of a life member. By 1876, he was the commander of the Grand Medal of Honor and Legion of Honor.

By 1875, he was teaching painting at Acadamie Julian which was an independent institution that had no nominal fees and entrance exams. Bouguereau was a firm traditionalist as his mythological and realistic genre paintings interpretation were modern depicting classical subjects.

They conformed to Christian and pagan depictions of female human body. Even though he created an idealized world through his paintings, his near photo-realistic techniques brought to life his nymphs, goodness, shepherdesses, bathers and Madonnas in a manner that was very pleasing to the rich art patrons who purchased his works.

During Bouguereau's time, he was considered as of the most talented painters in the academic art world. His paintings gained his fame in Spain, Holland, Belgium and United States where his art work commanded high prices. His career went up with nearly no major setbacks. Many envied him for his refinement and epitomized art and the high respect he had for traditions. Great painters such as Monet and Degas named him as the greatest French painter of the 1900s and the most remembered painter for his work.