Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Particular Fondness for the Academies

William Bouguereau has to be one of my favorite of the more 'modern' painters because of his training in the Academic Style and his loyalty to the Academic style.  Bouguereau was a master of incorporating in the literature he studied with the paintings he did and painted a wide array of mythical and religious topics.  Even in an age when artists were rebelling against the Academies like Matisse and Degas, who had no love for Bouguereau's slick finished style, Bouguereau held fast to his love of the literature, arts, and style of the academies.

This painting is called Art and Literature:
L'art et la litterature, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1867, Oil on canvas, 78-3/4 x 42-1/2"
(Art and Literature, c. 1867, Oil on Canvas, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Arnot Art Museum Elmira)

The Birth of Venus shows Bouguereau's exceptional grasp of form and skill in painting the human form, particularly the female human body.  The idealized world of mythology, gods, goddesses, nymphs, and legends is were Bouguereau prevailed in the accurate details, beautiful renderings of flesh, and symbolism.

William Bouguereau, Naissance de Vénus, en 1879, huile sur toile, H. 3. ; L. 2.15, musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
©photo musée d'Orsay / rmn (The Birth of Venus, 1879, Oil on Canvas, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Musee d'Orsay, Paris)

To compare this with a classical masterpiece below is Botticelli's Birth of Venus, 1486 nearly 400 years earlier

Birth of Venus, c. 1486, Tempera on Canvas, Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Botticelli, displays all the symbolism, iconography, and mythology in his painting present in Bouguereau's painting, but Bouguereau brings in an element of a more 'real' female heroine with the realistic flesh and form of Venus.  She is painted in a manner appearing perfect yet she could be real unlike Botticelli's who still appears as if only a dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment