William Bouguereau


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(b La Rochelle, 30 Nov. 1825; d La Rochelle, 19 Aug. 1905).

French painter. In 1850 he won the Prix de Rome, and after his return to France in 1854 he became an immensely successful and influential exponent of academic art, upholding traditional values and contriving to exclude avant-garde work from the Salon—Cézanne once expressed regret at being rejected by the ‘Salon de Monsieur Bouguereau’. He painted portraits of photographic verisimilitude, slick and sentimental religious works, and coyly erotic nudes. His reputation sank after his death and for many years his work was regarded as irredeemably empty and vulgar. However, he has recently achieved something of a rehabilitation, his work becoming the subject of serious study and fetching huge prices in the saleroom.

Subjects: Art.

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