By Darla McCammon
This week we are going to look at one piece of art created by William Bouguereau called “The Nut Gatherers.”
Bouguereau went from being an incredibly popular artist, creating over 800 works, only to be moved to scorn and disdain by the impressionists after his death. Many of those 822 works of art are very valued but lost today — and unsigned, so check your attic and basement if you want a windfall.
Bouguereau was born late in November in 1825. His family lived in La Rochelle, France, and made a living selling wine and olive oil. His family moved and had more children and sent Bouguereau to live with an uncle, a priest, to create room at home. During his stay, he was very influenced by nature, religion and literature. All three of these loves would become evident later in life as they influenced his choice of subjects for his art work.
Two artists were to influence his style and ability as a painter. First, he was sent to study the priesthood at a Catholic college in Pons. While there he was taught to draw and paint by a mentor, Louis Sage, who had good credentials. Bouguereau reluctantly left his studies to return to his family, now residing in Bordeaux. Here the boy met another mentor, Charles Marionneau, and subsequently enrolled and did very well, becoming their star pupil. He was encouraged and decided to try his luck as an artist in Paris. He created 33 oils very quickly and sold them in order to pay for his expenses to get to Paris. Only one of these oils has been found but he reached his goal when he arrived in March 1846 at a young age of 20.
As a student at the school of Beaux-ARts, Bouguereau filled his life with art. He had formal training and watched anatomical procedures and learned about historical attire along with archaeology. He became proficient in the realistic, academic style. He started winning fabulous awards such as The Prix de Rome. He excelled in paintings of women and created work with classical studies and mythological basis. His work was very popular both in France and the United States. You can find his work today in the Detroit Art Museum. He continued to receive numerous honors along with the ability to acquire high prices for his efforts.
Then, his work began to be attacked by those artists who preferred Impressionism. Due to this, he eventually fell out of favor, especially after his death. Later, at the whim of society, as so often happens, his work attained a revival of popularity and is now appreciated for the excellent craftsman he was. His work is now recognized for the quality he achieved. Critics applaud his ability when viewing one of his masterpieces.
Lakeland Art Association notes
- LAA has received two paintings from Irwin Farms that were done by Ruth Martin. I am doing research on Martin in case any of you have information about her. The paintings will be put into the LAA permanent collection once I am finished with the research. E-mail me at [email protected] if you can add to her story; and thank you Rita Erwin and Erwin Farms for thinking of the art association.
- Warsaw’s City Hall art gallery is closed until COVID-19 risk is reduced and more safe. Meanwhile, you can enjoy Al Disbro’s photography artwork on the city hall website.
- LAA will be opening again Feb. 3 with an exhibit by Bill Shewman. More on this artist will be in next week’s article.