William-Adolphe Bouguereau  

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"The wonder of a painting by Bouguereau is that it is so completely, so absolutely, all of a piece. Not a single element is out of harmony with the whole; there is not a flaw in the totality of the union between conception and execution. The trouble with Bouguereau's perfection is that the conception and the execution are perfectly false. Yet this is perfection of a kind, even if it is a perverse kind". --Mainstreams of Modern Art: David to Picasso, 1959, Canaday.

Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence
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Innocence (1893) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Both young children and lambs are symbols of innocence

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter. Bouguereau was a traditionalist whose realistic genre paintings and mythological themes were modern interpretations of Classical subjects with a heavy emphasis on the female nude.

Although he created an idealized world, his almost photo-realistic style was popular with rich art patrons. He was very famous in his time but today his subject matter and technique receive relatively little attention compared to the popularity of the Impressionists.

Throughout much of the 20th century, his work has been thought of as academic, kitschy and erotic "art pompier." He often depicts ingenues and used some of the religious and erotic symbolism of the Old Masters, such as the “broken pitcher” which connoted lost innocence.

Legacy

In 1974, the New York Cultural Center staged a show of Bouguereau's work as a curiosity. In 1984, the Borghi Gallery hosted the commercial show of his 23 oil paintings and 1 drawing. In the same year a major exhibition was organized by the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, in Canada. The exhibition opened at the Musée du Petit-Palais, in Paris, traveled to The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, and concluded in Montréal. This was the beginning of renewal of interest about Bouguereau. In 1997 Mark Borghi and Laura Borghi organized an early Internet exhibition.

In 2000, the Art Renewal Center was founded by Fred Ross and like-minded artists and collectors to oppose Modernism and advocate traditional values of art. They particularly champion the work of Bouguereau, whom Ross considers to be "deserving of the highest accolades in the art world."

Today, over one hundred museums throughout the world exhibit Bouguereau's works.

Selected works




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "William-Adolphe Bouguereau" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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