Young Worker 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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Known in French as Jeune Ouvrier, the Young Worker painting is among the many works of art by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

He displays his affinity for the classic era through his paintings on canvas. In this particular drawing, Bouguereau depicts the image of a young girl sitting on a bench, probably hewn from rock, with pieces of cloth in her hands.

She is probably mending them; hence, the title Young Worker.

This painting seems to depict, albeit cryptically, the role of young females in the 18th-century society. During this period, society must have expected girls to grow up into fine young women by assigning specific tasks to them.

They were supposed to work as maids as the way of preparing them for motherhood. The young worker appears to be comfortable with her role, judging from the expression the artist has depicted on her face.

Bouguereau’s oil on canvass may elicit mixed reactions. However, one thing is clear: the role of women in the community. The young lady is sitting outside, all alone, and appears to be performing her tasks without any ado.

The title Young is also telling. Making clothes must have been a responsibility for the girls in the family. The portrayal of women in Bouguereau's drawing is often as a sex symbol, as can be seen in many of his paintings. However, Young Worker seems to be different as there is nothing sexual about the image.

Bouguereau could not entirely hide his fascination with the ladies in many of his drawings. Although he drew many harsh criticisms, he didn’t water down his attitude. It is; therefore, not surprising that he depicts the young worker as a female. She exudes beauty and the innocence one would expect from young ladies.

An element of the Biblical dimension is present in this painting. Bouguereau seems to be depicting the innocence and purity of Biblical young girls, such as Mary, Martha, and Salome, just to mention but a few. The artist must have been very religious at that time.

Young Worker is one of Bouguereau’s paintings that bring to the fore the role of women in the society. The picture also serves to strengthen the assertion that Bouguereau must have had a soft spot for females.