A Portrait of Eugene Bouguereau 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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A Portrait of Eugene Bouguereau is an oil on canvas painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, painted in 1850 is of the artist's uncle.

Eugene was a key player in the development of William's artistic talent and is therefore honoured by this depiction.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle, France on November 30th, 1825. He was destined to follow in the family footsteps and join their thriving Wine and Olive Merchant business but Eugene stepped in when the young William went to stay with him at the age of 12.

Eugene was a curate and engendered in the boy a love of nature, religion and literature. He arranged for William to go to high school and later helped to fund his education.

This he did by organising for William to paint portraits of his parishioners. He sold 33 oil portraits within three months. William's aunt then matched the earnings and this enabled him to become an artist in Paris.

Bouguereau painted in the traditional academic style. He was a staunch traditionist whose work was often modern interpretations of classical themes He specialised in the human form and one of the things that made him so popular is that he could beautify his sitter while still retaining her likeness.

His style had been likened to the great painter Raphael of whom he was a great admirer. Bouguereau's genre often idealised pagan and Christian themes with an emphasis on the naked female form.

His subjects brought to life goddesses, nymphs and bathers, madonnas and shepherdesses in such a way as to please the eyes of wealthy art patrons of the day. His most notable works include: Dante and Virgil, Nymphs and Satyr, The Broken Pitcher and The Bohemian.

In his lifetime, Bouguereau created over 800 paintings many of which, sadly are lost with no knowledge as to their whereabouts. He died aged 79, of heart disease at La Rochelle on August 19th 1905.

Towards the end of his life he summed up his love of his art. "...If I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable..."