a look at

William-Adolphe Bouguereau's Paintings


In his day, the Neoclassical artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau was among the most renowned and marketable painters in the Western world, having received official praise and awards, and being a renowned and adored instructor.


Despite barely making ends meet, he was accepted to the famous École Royale des Beaux-Arts, whose curriculum included painting, perspective, anatomy, antiquities, history, and sculpture.

mature period

After his early experiences in Italy, Bouguereau’s profession was marked by the never-ending accumulation of acclaim and commissions, as well as the yearly exhibition of Bouguereau paintings at the Salon de Paris.

late period

While his professional life was defined by achievements – he was given lifelong membership in the Academy in 1876 – his personal life was marred by tragedy. His death in 1905 was marked by spectacular funeral parades and tributes in both La Rochelle and Paris.


The popularity of Impressionism throughout the 20th century, as well as the Impressionists’ opinions about Bouguereau’s paintings, help explain Bouguereau’s posthumous decline.


In the 1970s and 1980s, there was revived interest in Bouguereau’s paintings, with major exhibits in Montreal, New York, and Paris. His works are currently fetching great sums at auction and are still in private hands.


Bouguereau has the unusual distinction of being most known for his clashes with other painters, specifically the Impressionists and other late-19th-century avant-garde groups. He derided them for their inadequate technical expertise.

art style

Bouguereau was a strict traditional artist whose realistic genre works and mythical themes were contemporary adaptations of Classical topics, with a strong focus on the female human figure.

notable paintings

Some of his most notable works include La Danse (1856), Nymphs and Satyr (1873), Flora and Zephyr (1879), Song of the Angels (1881), and The Return of Spring (1886).