Bouguereau


A possibly amusing story involving Twitter:

Got some Bouguereau lined up for tomorrow. He’s a pretty good cautionary tale against accepting the opinions of your age, one with, possibly, a happy ending. During his lifetime, he was considered the greatest painter in the world, for very good reason:

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One may reasonably dispute about choice of subject matter, for example, or simply prefer other great artists. I’m partial to Fra Angelico and Botticelli, personally. But as far as skill and technique goes, he’s one of the very greatest painters ever, and he used all those painting chops to create always beautiful and often profound art. The accusations made against him and other Academic painters – that they were dull, lifeless, and cared only about technique – are disproven by a glance at just the 3 examples above.

But Bouguereau, who died in 1905, was forcibly consigned to the dustbin of history, and stayed there, his painting put into storage and dismissed in art schools for over 80 years. Only the work of some dedicated people has brought him back to life over the last couple decades.

When hung in museums, these are the painting the young and old alike linger over. It’s not because of bad taste. Preferring modern art to Bouguereau is a willful act of insanity. It is to choose ugly and shallow over beautiful and deep.

Anyway, yesterday, was wasting time on Twitter – but I repeat myself – when Daddy Warpig, self-proclaimed geek and trenchant social critic, tweeted:

Daddy Warpig 1

To which I replied:

Daddy Warpig 2

And, 10,000 or so impressions (whatever they are), dozens of retweets and likes and replies later – I’ve introduced Bouguereau to Mr. Warpig’s Twitterverse. You know, gamer geeks and Odds and all that. I do not understand Twitter at all. In about 12 hours, there was more Twitter activity around this tweet than the total from inception to that point. People thanked me for introducing them to Bouguereau, who (of course) they’d never heard of.

This is strangely and deeply satisfying.

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

8 thoughts on “Bouguereau”

  1. Not a twitterverse guy, but I appreciate you introducing Bouguereau and your commentary on the Last Supper art. Bouguereau is truly a delight and your commentary on Fra Angelico reminds me how superficially I view art. A few days more … and Happy Easter to you and yours.

    1. Technically, I really think he’s the best ever – as much as I love Botticelli, Rafael, and some of the other great masters, when it comes to flat-out painting, draftsmanship, perspective, and all those fancy layering techniques it takes to get skin, for example, to look real – the B-man is untouchable. And he cares deeply about beauty. Wonderful stuff.

  2. “For me a work of art must be an elevated interpretation of nature. The search for the ideal has been the purpose on my life. In landscape or seascape, I love above all the poetic motif.”
    -Bougereau

    Thanks for helping to draw some much-needed attention to my favorite artist! I notice more and more people discovering him, so hopefully his days of obscurity are drawing to a close.

  3. I can attest from my own experience the truth of both claims: that M. Bouguereau’s painting arrest the attention of museum viewers, and that he’s been (bizarrely) wiped from the canon.

    My favorite painting, when I was girl and lived in California, in the art museum at Balboa Park was a picture of a girl looking over her shoulder at me. I couldn’t’ve told you why (though in hindsight, it’s obvious). I’d visit it every time we went the park, and before we moved I made a special trip to see it one more time. Unfortunately, being a kid, I didn’t write down the name of the artist or the title of the painting.

    Many many years, and an 100-level art history class later, I was noticed a card on a rack at the local ice-cream shop, and shrieked: “That’s it! That’s him!”

    It was The Little Knitter and I flipped the card over to see if they’d credited the artist …

    And that’s how I rediscovered William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s The Young Shepherdess

    And yes, as much as I love Bottecelli, and Caravaggio and Fra Angelico, M. Bouguereu has become my favorite. He’s also one of the most frequently requested artists at the Frye Museum here.

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