The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1825-1905

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1825.11.30
Place of Birth: La Rochelle
Date of Death: 1905.08.19
Place of Death: La Rochelle, France


William-Adolphe Bouguereau was a painter and professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.


Bouguereau was a staunch supporter and member of the Academy during the 19th century. From 1838-1841, he took lessons from a pupil of Ingres, Louis Sage before his family moved to Bordeaux and he began to study part time at the Ecole Municipale de Dessin et de Peinture. In 1846, he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Francois-Edouard Picot where he received atypical accademic training. He generally restricted himself to classical and genre subjects and in 1888 he was made a Professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he painted and exhibited until his death. Although he was collected widely in England and America, his reputation was relatively low in France due to his ardent support of the Academy which was in general at odds with the interest of Baudelaire in painting modern life.

Whistler's connection with Bouguereau seems to be restricted in the letters to comparisons between the two painters. Pennell's work mentions that Bouguereau was part of the established French Academic circle and in George Roland Halkett's letter to The Scotsman, it states how Whistler was awarded a medal by Paris's leading artists. including Bouguereau, despite their differing approaches to style.


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 Volumes, London and Philadelphia, 1908; M.Rosenthal, 'Bouguereau, William-Adolphe', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L Macy, (accessed 30th June 2003).