William Bouguereau was a French academic painter. In his paintings he used classical themes as well as mythological with obvious and great emphasis on the female human body. In his time gained popularity and was being given orders from rich patrons.He created an idealistic world but with a touch of realistic humanizing sense of the human being itself, especially through his numerous portraits.
He was born in La Rochelle, in France into a family of wine and olive oil merchants. His uncle, a Roman Catholic Priest taught him Biblical and classical subjects and encouraged him to go to high school. Bouguereau soon revealed his great talent and was adviced to attend École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, where he won his first prize with a depiction of Saint Roch. Along with his uncle asistance was given a commission to paint portraits of parishioners and later became a student of École des Beaux-Arts. In unison he attended anatomical dissections and studied historical costumes and archeology. Soon after attended the studio of François-Edouard Picot and studied academic style in painting. In 1850 Bouguereau won Prix de Rome with Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of the Araxes so he was given the opportunity to stay in Italy at the Villa Medici where he came first-hand in touch with the Rennaisance masterpieces.
Zénobia retrouvée par les bergers sur les bords de l'Araxe
His panting was entirely dedicated to the academic style and used to exhibit his works in the Paris Salon.
He fulfilled the requirements of Prix de Rome by completing a copy of Raphael's The Triumph of Galatea.
Bouguereau's graceful portraits of women were considered very charming, partly because he could beautify a sitter while also retaining her likeness.
In 1856 he was married to Marie-Nelly Monchablon and had five children. He came in touch with Paul Durand-Ruel and who helped clients buy paintings from artists who used to exhibit their work at the Salon. Thus his fame extended to England by the 1860s and bought a house and studio in Montparnasse.
In his paintings reveals an idealistic world from classical themes, mythological, pagan and christian with emphasis on the beautiful female body according to the style used to be likeable to the rich patrons of his era.
Study for Vierge aux anges
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. He was also received commisions to decorate private houses, public buildings and churches. Gradually he increased his good fame and respect. He became life member of the Academy in 1876 Commander of the Legion of Honor and Grand Medal of Honor in 1885. He started taching painting at the Academie Julian in 1876.
In 1877 both his wife and son died. In 1896 he was married for second time to fellow arist Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau who was one of his pupils. In the spring of 1905 his house and studio were robbed and on August 19, 1905 Bouguereau died in La Rochelle at the age of 79 from heart disease.He painted eight hundred and twenty-six paintings.
In his own time he was considered as one of the most talented painters and artists, but after 1920 Bouguereau fell into disrepute, due to the fact that the tastes were changing and due to his opposition to the Impressionists who were then gaining acceptance.
Les petites maraudeuses
Au Bord du Ruisseau