Virgin Comforter 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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William Bouguereau Virgin Comforter Painting is a controversial surprising picture.

On view is the Virgin sitting on a throne with a grieving woman lying over her knees and her dead child at the feet of the virgin.

The virgin sitting on a throne comes out an imperturbable, impassible, lonely figure. She is straight, stern and formidable. The look in her eyes gazes into the far and she sits in a trance.

The virgin comforter picture depicts the virgin tackling forces of the universe and coming to the rescue of the woman seeking refuge. She sits like a god herself—not touching the woman or reaching out for the child.

This showcases she is not the typical woman who radiates compassion and consoles the grieving mother.

The virgin comforter picture depicts she is a goddess who commands only the power to direct the soul of the dead child into the heavens, but not to send back the soul and life into the child.

Looking at the virgin comforter picture, you get a feeling the woman may have asked or pleaded for the saving of the child’s soul. The virgin does not grant that wish because she doesn’t hold that power.

Though the virgin William Bouguereau painting is named the comforter, in reality she looks like fate, an anonymous figure that help can be sought from but she cannot answer. She takes the sadness of tragedies but remains in her own realm eternally silent, wise but impassible.

The vision or sense you get from the virgin comforter picture is un-religious and almost silent blame filled with bitterness for the not-reactionary god not intervening.

The virgin comforter does not answer nor comfort. Comfort is only a feeling afflicted human beings perceive. Thus, the title the comforter Willian Bouguereau gives is irony since we see non-intervention from the virgin comforter in earthly matters.

Why doesn’t she help the mother and the dead child? Why does the virgin comforter allow suffering and what is the meaning of silence? Comfort seems not to be in the mind of the virgin, but merely a feeling or act of humans seeking comfort. If this is true, what is the need for the mother seeking comfort from the virgin comforter?