William-Adolphe Bouguereau was particularly appreciated by the academic art scene right across Europe who approved of both his own technical skills as well as the traditional approach that he used at a time when new, innovative art movements had started appearing all over Europe.
For a period within the 20th century Bouguereau paintings were seen by many as being too traditional and his career received less exposure.
The artist then gained popularity in recent years with those who appreciated his mythological paintings as modern interpretations of classical style scenes, frequently including women and children that in recent years has become more popular with the larger number of women who are now part of the world art public.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau built an impressive career which lasted as long as 50 years across the mid to late 19th century and the painting above is typical of his work, featuring mythical babies in Bouguereau's preferred technical style which most have labelled as realism.
It is unsurprising to learn of the artist's traditional style when you consider that early on in his life he was tutored in classical subjects by his uncle who was keen to encourage William-Adolphe into becoming enthusiastic about old-fashioned and conservative principles.
Bouguereau, as typical for classical painters, featured nudists within several of his paintings, such as The Wave (1896) and The Birth of Venus (1879).
These genres offered the artist an opportunity to underline his great skills with regards accurate reproduction of the human body and this was a topic which greatily inspired him, as well as suiting his approach to art.
The Birth of venus has become one of his most respected paintings and frequently is mentioned whenever his name comes up in the modern media.
Virgin with Angels
Virgin with Angels is one of Bouguereau's most finest creations and a highly complex work with a whole swathe of figures covering this inspired canvas painting.
The attention to detail on each of the many angels plus the charming manner in which the painting is held together with a focus on the virgin and child in the middle give it a great longevity.
This painting is currently amongst the most popular for reproduction from the whole career of Bouguereau thanks to the qualities discussed here. williambouguereau.org covers the life and career of this great painter in depth and features a large number of his most famous paintings.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau found his achievements of the early days of his career and acceptance by academics allowed opportunities to quickly arise all over France with many commissions offered to him with substantial rewards from those looking to add some decorative classto their private homes, churches and public buildings.
Someone with the respect, uncontroversial personality and underlying prestigious upbringing of Bouguereau would make them instantly palatable to the conservative French middle classes.
Birth of Venus
Birth of Venus follows a similar approach to Virgin with Angels and offers a beautiful central scene which has additional complentary figures who line the rest of the painting as inspired complentary characters.
They both also use his much loved classical style that in the modern era has begun to reach a peak of appreciation with an art public across the world who now have an accepted diversity of tastes. In all, William-Adolphe Bouguereau has 826 oil paintings attributed to him up to now and Birth of Venus is amongst his finest of all.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau was an artist who polarised opinion with many during his lifetime finding his works as amongst the best in his genre of all time.
Conversely, more revolutionary-minded art fans despised everything that he stood for and would never back an artist who followed such a traditional approach at a time when French art was becoming renowned for being innovative and right on the edge of new contemporary art movements which were sprouting out across Europe, spearheaded by the Impressionists who included Claude Monet and a wealth of imaginative landscape painters.
Song of The Angels
Song of The Angels is another example of the artist's preference for the inclusion of women and children within his paintings and these feminine topics were always combined with classical scenes sich as the mythological angels used here.
For many, art is something which should continue along the same themes as brought about by the renaissance and baroque periods with religious scenes covered in traditional, realist painting techniques. William-Adolphe Bouguereau was certainly a great exponent of this, and his popularity shows no signs of waning over time.
Whilst thoroughly appreciated by the art academics, William-Adolphe was himself a teacher of art at the Académie Julian and gained great enjoyment from passing on his own knowledge onto others which was particularly common for talented artists all the way back to Italian renaissance artists who would produce further generations themselves with painstaking tutoring that helped Italy to retain it's artistic standards for several centuries.
List of Famous William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Please see below for a summarised list of the best Bouguereau paintings that are featured throughout this website.
- Evening Mood
- Cupid and Psyche
- The Proposal
- The Broken Pitcher
- The First Kiss
- Crown of Flowers
- Nymphs and Satyr
- The Abduction of Psyche
- The Bohemian
- Young Girl Defending herself against Cupid
- The Bathers
- The Dance
- The Little Shepherdess
- Rest at Harvest
- Fraternal Love
- A Soul Brought to Heaven
- Art and Literature
- The Virgin with Angels
- Self Portrait
- The Birth of Venus
- Tete d Etude l Oiseau
- La Danse
- Alone in the World
- The Knitting Girl
- The Birth of Venus
- The Nut Gatherers
- The Young Shepherdess
- Le Printemps The Return of Spring
- The First Mourning
- Amour et Psyche Enfants