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William Adolphe Bouguereau (French painter) 1825 - 1905

William Adolphe Bouguereau was a French academic painter. He was a traditionalist; in his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of Classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. In his own time, Bouguereau was considered to be one of the greatest painters in the world by the Academic art community, and simultaneously he was reviled by the avant-garde. He also gained wide fame in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and in the United States, and commanded high prices. Bouguereau’s career was close to a direct ascent with hardly a setback. To many, he epitomized taste and refinement, and a respect for tradition. To others, he was a competent technician stuck in the past. Degas and his associates used the term “Bouguereauté” in a derogatory manner to describe any artistic style reliant on “slick and artificial surfaces”, also known as a licked finish. In an 1872 letter, Degas wrote that he strove to emulate Bouguereau’s ordered and productive working style, although with Degas' famous trenchant wit, and the aesthetic tendencies of the Impressionists, it is possible the statement was meant to be ironic. Bouguereau’s works were eagerly bought by American millionaires who considered him the most important French artist of that time. But after 1920, Bouguereau fell into disrepute, due in part to changing tastes and partly to his staunch opposition to the Impressionists who were finally gaining acceptance. For decades following, his name was not even mentioned in encyclopedias. Sources on his full name are contradictory: it is sometimes given as William-Adolphe Bouguereau (composed name), William Adolphe Bouguereau (usual and civil-only names according to the French tradition), while in other occasions it appears as Adolphe William Bouguereau (with Adolphe as the usual name). However, the artist used to sign his works simply as William Bouguereau (hinting "William" was his given name, whatever the order), or more precisely as "W.Bouguereau.date" (French alphabet) and later as "W-BOVGVEREAV-date" (Latin alphabet). Source: Wikipedia * * * Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau (American painter) 1837 - 1922 Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau was an American academic and salon painter, who was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. She was an American expatriate who died in Paris where she had lived most of her life. She studied in Paris under the figurative painter Hugues Merle (1823–1881), the well-known salon painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836–1911), and finally under William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905). After Bouguereau's wife died, Gardner became his paramour and after the death of his mother, who bitterly opposed the union, she married him in 1896. She adopted his subjects, compositions and even his smooth facture, channeling his style so successfully that some of her work might be mistaken for his. In fact, she was quoted as saying, "I know I am censured for not more boldly asserting my individuality, but I would rather be known as the best imitator of Bouguereau than be nobody!"Gardner's best known work may be The Shepherd David Triumphant (1895), which shows the young shepherd with the lamb he has rescued. Among her other works were Cinderella, Cornelia and Her Jewels, Corinne, Fortune Teller, Maud Muller, Daphne and Chloe, Ruth and Naomi, The Farmer's Daughter, The Breton Wedding, and some portraits.Elizabeth Gardner's relationship with Bouguereau was widely known and discussed within the Parisian artistic community. They made no secret of their relationship over the course of an engagement that was to last seventeen years. Mary French, the wife of the major American sculptor Daniel Chester French later recalled that she had "interesting memories...of Bouguereau's studio, where we used to go often, and where was also Miss Jennie Gardner of Exeter, New Hampshire, whom he either married or didn't marry – I have forgotten the details. There was a certain glamour of that young woman of puritan birth, a contemporary of my puritan aunts, living there in the latin quarter and doing something that all Paris talked about.In 1866, Gardner was the first American woman to exhibit at the Paris Salon. Awarded a gold medal at the 1872 Salon, she became the first woman ever to receive such an honor. Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau was accepted to the Salon more than any other woman painter in history and all but a few of the men.Gardner was a very independent woman. Like the sculptor Rosa Bonheur, she applied to the police for a permit that would allow her to wear men's attire so she could attend life classes at the famous Gobelin works. She was an astute businesswoman and an excellent linguist, switching from her native English to French, Italian or German, to make her guests and potential clients feel at ease. She excelled in the social graces and knew how to manage publicity and nurture relationships that would help her further her career. Her ability to work her way into the social networks in Paris earned her sales and portrait commissions.


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