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William Bouguereau


Wlliam-Adolphe Bouguereau, born Nov. 30, 1825, La Rochelle, he was a French painter, a dominant figure in his nation’s academic painting during the second half of the 19th century. Bouguereau entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1846 and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1850. He attracted a wide following with his mythological and allegorical paintings, although his portrait paintings are perhaps held in higher esteem today. His work was characterized by a highly finished, technically impeccable realism and a sentimental interpretation of his subject matter. Bouguereau received many honours in the 1860s and ’70s as his career progressed; he exhibited regularly at the Salon for several decades and became for a time the most famous French painter of his day. As a proponent of official orthodoxy in painting, he played a major role in the exclusion of the works of the Impressionists and other experimental painters from the Salon. In 1876 he was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. Modern critics tend to assess Bouguereau as a painter who sacrificed boldness of technique and originality of outlook for a highly polished but conventional treatment of the human form.

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