William Bouguereau's The Thank Offering is also known as The Vow. This is regarded by many as one of the most touching works by Bouguereaus. The painting portrays a young girl and an older woman who seems to be her mother. This theme of devotion as seen in the mother displays the ace's skill at its finest.
The child is dressed in the type of clothing which may indicate that she is recovering from a serious illness. Unlike most children her age, who are portrayed in Bouguereau's paintings as filled with energy, she is in a more restful position. His Christian confidence is shown in the faith displayed by the mother in her action and expression.
While the daughter's lower body is covered with a blanket, she finds the strength to hold up her upper body. Her mother joins hands with her as they both hold a candle aloft. Her mother's face is filled with hope. She may be looking forward to the point at which her daughter will be well again.
The little girl does not have her eyes open. Instead, she closes them as she lays her head on her mother's breast. She seems to be too weary to join more actively in the prayer the mother seems to be offering to God.
The artist did several paintings that had a religious theme. This 1867compoition is only one of them and yet, it is one that people of all backgrounds will be able to relate to. Most individuals have had a loved one fight to recover from illness. Praying and giving thanks often discipline the mind and spirit during those times. It may be that Bouguereau has found a way to both heal and inspire through his work, whether the mother is making a vow about what she will do if her child recovers or is giving thanks because her child has come back from the brink of death.
This original painting is part of a private collection ad is one of several that the artist did which feature children. However, it shows another aspect to life. This piece focuses on the wonder of hope. The anticipation that things will get better and a bad situation will change in some way.