Art Wednesday

The knitting girl (1860's)

This weeks artist is another of my favourites - William Adolphe Bourguereau - born November 1825, died on the 19th of August 1905.  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 (I couldn't even find him in my art books).  Through his uncle, Bouguereau was given a commission to paint portraits of parishioners, and when his aunt matched the sum he earned he went to Paris to become a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  Bouguereau’s works were eagerly bought by American millionaires who considered him the most important French artist of that time.  But after 1920, Bouguereau fell into disrepute, due in part to changing tastes and partly to his staunch opposition to the Impressionists who were finally gaining acceptance.

Bouguereau employed traditional methods of working up a painting, including detailed pencil studies and oil sketches, and his careful method resulted in a pleasing and accurate rendering of the human form. His painting of skin, hands, and feet was particularly admired. However to many, he epitomized taste and refinement, and a respect for tradition. To others, he was a competent technician stuck in the past.

In 1856, he married and subsequently had five children. In 1877, both his wife and infant son died. At a rather advanced age, Bouguereau was married for the second time in 1896. He died from heart disease aged 79.

His works are one of beauty and he knew how to capture the human form so delicately. These are a tiny example of his works - it was so hard to choose from his large collect of art.

The elder sister (1860's)
The penitence (1895)
The difficult lesson (1884)
 Brenton brother and sister (1871)


  1. Very beautiful, pity one has to be painting in the style of the day, or keeping up with whatever is coming next, when what you are doing is just great for the style it is.


  2. Those are AMAZING! Wow, I am always so impressed by the ability to mimic the reality of flesh and feeling with the stroke of a brush...what a talent!

  3. These are gorgeous Jo! The detail is amazing.

  4. beautiful artwork! So real-looking!! :)

  5. Now, he is one artist I HAVE heard of before:)
    We studied him briefly in my dd's "Come look with me" series by Gladys Blizzard last year! He was definitely a favourite of ours!


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