The Bouguereau paintings – what you need to know


Born in La Rochelle, on the west coast of France on November 30, 1825, William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a French academic painter. Son of Theodore Bouguereau, the owner of a small olive plantation and Maria Marguerita Bonnin, William was the second child of the family. Although the parents were Calvinist, five years later, they were baptized according to Catholic faith.

In 1832, the family moved to Saint-Martin, on the island of Re, with the intention of starting a new business. Being enrolled in the local school, colleagues saw his countless drawings on booklets and study books. Unfortunately, family affairs did not thrive and in an attempt to keep children away from the violence that took place at that time, Theodore and Marie decided to send them to close relatives. Thus, William came to his uncle Eugene, a pastor of the Mortagne sur Gironde church in Saint-Etienne, who became his guardian and benefactor.

The early years

The beauty of the places inspires the young William and his uncle discovers his talent for painting. He encourages him, and in 1839 sends him to the Pons school where he will study religion and ancient history besides the arts. Then he takes drawing lessons with Lois Sage, in his turn the disciple of Ignes.

He returns to his parents, but his father asks him to take up a serious job and keep his account of the family business with olive oil. Getting employed at a neighbor’s workshop, he works to exhaustion to continue his art studies in parallel. Learn more here.

Though it was the issue of paying the hours, helped by Eugene who had incurred some of the expenses, his father recognized his talent and enrolled him at the municipal art school. Due to his talent, he is admitted to the advanced class of Jean-Paul Alaux, having the opportunity to go for two hours a day at normal school classes.

He started painting portraits of personalities from Saintonge, saving 900 francs. With recommendations from Alaux, he obtains a job in the workshop of painter Francois Picot in Paris and in April 1846 he is accepted at the School of Belle Arte.

In 1850, he won the Grand Prix in Rome and, implicitly, a scholarship at Vila Medici. For three years and four months he traveled and for four months he traveled and painted in Italy, and in 1854 on his return to France he exhibited at the Salon the work “The Martyr’s Triumph”. His popularity grew rapidly, and in 1857 Emperor Napoleon III commanded a painting depicting him and the Empress.

On January 8, 1876, he was admitted to the Academy of Belle Arts of the French Institute and was then considered one of the greatest painters of the time. Fred Ross director of the Art Renewal Center said that Degas and Monet predicted in 1990 that William-Adolph Bouguereau would be well-known painter of the century in 2000.

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Throughout his life he enjoyed remarkable reputation, his paintings being bought especially by American collectors at high prices. However, due to his opposition to the Impressionist style, his notoriety began to fall, and in 1920 he entered a shadow cone not mentioned in any encyclopedia for four decades. But he was not the only forgetten artist, Paul Poiret being another example. They were forgotten only to be rediscovered. Today, his 836 works adorn the art galleries of over one hundred museums around the world.

At an advanced age, he reunites with artist Elisabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau, and is then known for his influence in order for women to be admitted to the French Academy of Fine Arts. In 1903, he is called the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, where the ceremony will stand for several hours in the rain. Soon his health worsened and on the night of August 19, 1905 he died of a heart attack in the home of La Rochelle. Throughout his career, his paintings on realistic and mythological themes have been exhibited in countless exhibitions, among those who have been praised by pianist and composer Frederic Chopin.

Imagini pentru william Bouguereau

In astronomy and astrology survived most mythological figures. Even today. The West and the East have given their hand to lead another tradition – the mythology of the stars. The artists painted, and the scholars wrote manuscripts in the 19th century about Gorgona, Perseide, and other figures in mythology.

The Arabs personalized the sky and the figures there. Hercules and his constellation become Arab with turban and scimitar. Perseus, instead of the head of Gorgona, will carry a barbarian demon.

Astrology textbooks like Picatrix or others with magic formulas, rituals and prayers, as well as God’s descriptions, appear.

The iconography of gods and monsters takes place through Liber ymaginum Deorum of “Albricus” in 1217 with descriptions of gods. There are also books on virtues and vices, proverbs and aphorisms such as Emblemata by Andrea Alciati (1531).


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