William-Adolphe Bouguereau

French academic painter (1825-1905)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (born November 30, 1825) was a French painter. Bouguereau was a traditionalist of academic art and his style did not change much throughout his painting career. He was a popular artist in his day. Rich customers liked his photo-realistic style. He liked to paint classical scenes and scenes from ancient mythology.

Self portrait

As a boy Bouguereau was born into a family of wine and olive oil sellers. His parents wanted him to join the family business when he became an adult. His uncle, however, arranged for him to get a proper education at school. Bouguereau showed great talent for art. One of his father’s customers talked him into sending William to a famous art college. There he won first place for one of his paintings. To earn extra money he designed labels for fruit jellies and jams.

Bouguereau liked to paint pictures of women. He was known for being able to make his subject look prettier than she really was.

In 1856, he married Marie-Nelly Monchablon and had five children. In the late 1850s he made a profitable friendship with a successful art dealer. This art dealer made William famous even in other countries. William was able to buy a big house and studio with his growing fortune. He was a hard working painter. He would make a thorough study and sketch of what he planned to paint. The great way he painted skin, hands and feet was well known. He eventually became a teacher at a French art college.

Near the end of his life he described his love of his art: “Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of darkness I can scarcely wait for the next morning to come…if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable”. He painted eight hundred and twenty-six paintings.

Bouguereau died at the age of 79 on August 19, 1905 from heart disease.

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