The following is an excerpt from the excellent biography by Damien Bartoli taken from the wonderful site of the Art Renewal Centre. I encourage you to spend time browsing their immense collection.
“William Bouguereau is unquestionably one of history’s greatest artistic geniuses. Yet in the past century, his reputation and unparalleled accomplishments have undergone a libelous, dishonest, relentless and systematic assault of immense proportions. His name was stricken from most history texts and when included it was only to blindly, degrade and disparage him and his work. Yet, as we shall see, it was he who single handedly opened the French academies to women, and it was he who was arguably the greatest painter of the human figure in all of art history. His figures come to life like no previous artist has ever before or ever since achieved. He wasn’t just the best ever at painting human anatomy, more importantly he captured the tender and subtlest nuances of personality and mood. Bouguereau caught the very souls and spirits of his subjects much like Rembrandt. Rembrandt is said to have captured the soul of age. Bouguereau captured the soul of youth.” Damien Bartoli
Bouguereau’s paintings of children are delightful and capture the charm and beauty of youth.
All images courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.
Bouguereau’s mythology and religious paintings, and nudes are absolutely exquisite.
And finally, the one I am most enamoured with is Alma Parens (The Motherland), painted in 1883. This is a representation of France and her colonial offspring. I love the impassive, patient and stoic face of the mother figure as she is clambered on and clamoured after by her children.
These are but a few of the many fine artworks by William Bouguereau. For further information, many more images (hi res as well) please go to the Art Renewal Center.