Hi everyone! This week I wanted to talk about William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He was a modern painter; he was active during the impressionist era, but his work was far from impressionism. He was a French man who created realist paintings of religion, mythology, and regular settings. He even created artworks based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Virgins and the Angels, 1881
Dante and Virgil in Hell, 1850
Les Enfants à L’Agneau, 1879
The Virgin with Angels, 1900
Italian Mandolin, 1870
These paintings are a select few that I picked. What I’ve noticed in Bouguereau’s work is that he ranges from intense to soft displays. For instance, paintings involving women, babies, and children, such as Virgins and the Angels and Les Enfants à L’Agneau, are soft and light. However, Dante and Virgil in Hell is extreme and intense. The figures’ bodies remind me of Michelangelo, since Bourguereau emphasizes the human body and muscles. This is also seen in the Pieta, where Christ’s body indepthly shows the pain and strain on Christ’s body.
Additionally, Bouguereau plays with emotion in these paintings. For instance, the Virgins and the Angels and The Virgin with Angels are both harmonious and peaceful. It’s relaxing to look at the Virgin and Child in these works. Then you look at the Pieta; this painting brings sorrow and pain, both because of the figures’ expressions and the sorrowfulness of Christ’s death.
Next, you look at Les Enfants à L’Agneau and Italian Mandolin. These two works seem like glimpses of an evens. For instance, it seems like we are observing the two children and the boy. The last painting, Dante and Virgil in Hell, is extreme. It vividly shows the actions of people in Hell based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Feature Image is Bourguereau, A Childhood Idyll, 1900