Tuesday, February 9, 2010

William Bouguereau...

A few images of the work of one of my favorite 19th Century painters...

"Self Portrait" - 1879
Born Nov 30th, 1825 - Died August 19th, 1905, Bouguereau painted close to 700 works in his lifetime, many of them life size. At the time of his death he was one of the most loved and yet most despised of all French painters. The public loved his work, the critics and "progressive" artists of the day hated him.
"Evening Mood" - 1882
In my opinion one of the most beautiful paintings of the 19th Century, this one stands nearly 7 feet tall. One can only imagine what seeing this in person would be like!
"Young Priestess" - 1902
Bouguereau was a master draughtsman and could render all manner of textures with a level of skill that is enviable to say the least. This had to be one of his last paintings as he had fairly poor health during the final few years of his life.
"The Abduction of Psyche" - 1895
Hard to believe he was 70 years old when he painted this, another nearly 7 foot tall masterpiece. Once again one has to marvel at the level of skill, the skin tones are simply extraordinary! Although he's one of my faves of that era, I really only enjoy a small portion of his body of work. My biggest problem with him is that he did too many heavy-handed religious pictures and far too many paintings with cherubs floating around (I cant help it, they creep me out!)
"The Young Shepherdess" - 1885
He painted a zillion images of idealized peasant girls and children. They were incredibly popular with the art-buying public but the critics accused him of wasting his talent on "commercialized" subjects. Bouguereau however, laughed all the way to la bank!
"The Broken Pitcher" - 1891
The broken pitcher symbolizing loss of innocence. I love the expression on her face and how her hands are posed . This girl appeared in a few of his other paintings as well.
"Nymphs and Satyr" - 1873
My favorite of all of Bouguereau's work, this has a sense of fun that rarely shows up in ANY art of the period, let alone his and it's just so beautifully painted and composed, it's a marvel to study and enjoy! I first saw an image of this on the ARC website and loved it immediately! I had never heard of Bouguereau before but quickly familiarized myself with more of his work. Sometime later I had the incredible pleasure of seeing this masterpiece in person at the Sterling and Francine Clark Museum in Massachusetts... I went on a lark, not even knowing it was on permanent display there!
Yup, that's me and all of nearly 9 feet of the Bouguereau! When I walked into the room my back was to this painting and when I turned around and saw it there, I literally almost fell over! Then I went into my Fred Sanford routine... "Elizabeth... ahm comin' ta join ya hunneh... wit da Bouguereau!!"
I've visited this painting one other time since then but I really need to go back again soon! They also have another Bouguereau nude there and one of Lawrence Alma-Tadema's greatest paintings, "Women of Amphissa" which was also cause for unsteady legs!!!

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