Adolphe William  Bouguereau 

Birth Year : 1825
Death Year : 1905
Country : France

Adolphe-William Bouguereau was a French painter who upheld standards of academic conservatism during a revolutionary era in modern painting. His work falls roughly into three categories: portraits, religious works, and nudes. Winning the coveted Prix de Rome in 1850 allowed Bouguereau to leave Paris and study for four years in Rome. Upon his return to Paris, prestige and influence allowed him to wage war against the modernist tendencies of French art. His portraits and religious works evince a photographic quality, highly prized by the academic painters of his period, in which brushstrokes are strictly concealed and a sense of three-dimensionality is achieved - though possibly at the expense of expression and personality. The broad sentimentality from which his progressive contemporaries were strongly dissenting is at a premium in Bouguereau's work, and his nudes possess a flirtatious sensuality that made them highly accessible to conservative viewers of the time.

As a powerful member of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, Bouguereau prevented avant-garde works from being shown at the Salon, the Academy's official exhibition. Artists who believed themselves to have been rejected by the Salon because of Bouguereau's efforts include the post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne, who referred to "the Salon de Monsieur de Bouguereau." With the triumph of the avant-garde in the twentieth century, Bouguereau's reputation quickly declined. While his hostility toward new ideas have made him a natural enemy for some progressive artists and historians, in the present post-modernist era, interest in his work has once again begun to accelerate.


Adolphe William Bouguereau
La Naissance de Venus

Adolphe William Bouguereau
First Kiss (detail)

Adolphe William Bouguereau
Girl Defending Herself Against Love

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