Bouguereau & America: About the Artist

History:
• Born into a family of wine and olive oil merchants
• Went to live with Uncle Eugene to study theology, and discovering the world of art and literature, decided on a career as an artist rather than work in the church or the family business
• Built reputation through portrait commissions and strict adherence to classical training
•Years after his first wife died, he married one of his models, Nelly Monchablon and the two of them had five children
• Enjoyed success throughout his career at the Paris Salon; his work is all over the world today

Training:
• Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, France
• Municipal School of Painting and Drawing
• Studio of Neoclassical painter François-Édouard Picot in Paris, France
• Won Prix de Rome prize that allowed him to study Renaissance masters in Italy for four years at the French Academy in the Villa Medici in Rome

Preferred Subject Matter:
• Mythological narratives, realistic genre (everyday life) and portraits, Madonna, shepherdesses, beggars and peasants all in idyllic rustic settings

Technique:
• Traditional, Academic style of painting with focus on the human form
• Began with numerous pencil and oil paint studies to work up to a painting
• Smooth brushstrokes and application lead to admiration for his depiction of skin, hands and feet in very realistic manner

Fun facts:
• Through his uncle, he was commissioned to paint portraits of parishioners
• Actively worked to ban Impressionist artists from showing their work in the Salon
• To make extra money while studying art, he designed labels for jams and preserves
• Attended anatomical dissection lectures and archaeology classes to practice capturing realistic human forms
• Was commissioned by Napoleon III which increased his fame and reputation as an Academic Realist painter

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