Electric Bouguereau


A lot of bloggers have had Bouguereau on the mind of late:

Eight days ago, Mikki and I were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, getting a whirlwind tour, in between church, brunch, and a Broadway play, from Dawn Eden. We started in the European painting gallery, and as we entered the first room, Dawn pointed out a couple of works by 19th century French painter William Bouguereau, "The Proposal" and "Young Mother Gazing at Her Child". I mentioned that Tulsa's Philbrook Museum had a prominently displayed work that I thought was a Bouguereau -- "The Shepherdess", which has pride of place in the first gallery. The name of the artist of that work was one of the few questions that stumped our team at the Holland Hall School trivia night back in January (we won decisively).

Late last night I verified that Bouguereau was the artist of the painting at Philbrook. Meanwhile, Dean Esmay was composing an essay on culture and female beauty (another topic I blogged about yesterday), and the heart of the piece was an appreciation of a certain 19th century French painter:

Back in the late 1800s, there was an artist who I believe truly captured the beauty of the female form. In my mind, he should be revered as much as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and maybe even Da Vinci. He was a truly great artist. Perhaps he is forgotten because his work came just before the explosion of the expressionists, the cubists, the dadaists, the abstractionists, and so on. Perhaps he was just too old-fashioned, for he was completely overshadowed by the modern artists. But he should be remembered.

Who was he? His name was William Bouguereau. ...

I see two things when I see William Bouguereau's work. First, I see a man who drew in the classical style at a time when it was out of fashion, archaic, and underapreciated. This is tragic enough. Yet I also see an artist who, more than any other, appreciated the grace, the beauty, and the poetry of the feminine form, the true feminine form.

Women--real women--aren't they beautiful?


Dean's entry includes a selection of Bouguereau's work and a link to an essay and online gallery of more than 200 paintings.

Hat tip to Charles of Dustbury for the link.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 6, 2004 9:02 PM.

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