William-Adolphe Bouguereau

A staunch traditionalist and technical expert, William-Adolphe Bouguereau was lambasted by his Impressionist contemporaries. “Too competent,” they claimed, “Stuck in the past.” It’s an argument that has echoed down through the decades and the manifold curiosities of what we call ‘art’. One school places honour and prestige in time-tested tradition, while the other strives to push the boundaries of expression, always looking forward. But this French painter, active during the late 19th century, triumphed in his pursuit of realism, using archetypal mythological imagery of Greek and Roman heritage as a foothold to explore the human form, while also worshipping the innate beauty of women. Powerful priestesses dominate many of his Classical scenes as stirring glimpses of a Golden Age.

Hates music and writing. Unfortunately, he's a journalist.

9 Comments

  • Reply December 20, 2011

    Doomed to Repeat

    fuck yes! as an art history major, i support this post and all others like it x 1000

    by the way, the cover for “fallen” was the only good thing about that record. and so many people hated it!

  • Reply December 20, 2011

    Richard

    Good cover, good album.

  • Reply December 21, 2011

    dschalek

    To me, this is a celebration of the female form ,unpolluted by modern society’s ideas of beauty; therefore, I find the artist’s subject matter disconnected from metal.

    I do like the Burzum album, though.

  • Reply December 21, 2011

    Richard

    Hence why I made no mention of it.

  • Reply December 21, 2011

    Rob//LURKERSPATH

    There is a link, though. Both new-Burzum and Bouguereau received exactly the same criticism from their peers – ‘stuck in the past’. Maybe that’s what made VV identify with the painter.

  • Reply December 21, 2011

    Richard

    It’s a good point but the cover of Fallen was not on my mind when I wrote this. I was reminded of him when doing a routine night of reading about Greco-Roman religion. One of his pieces accompanied an article about Nyx, or La Nuit, which is the painting of the woman in a black shroud.

  • Reply December 21, 2011

    Justin

    It is wonderful to see this posted. Bouguereau is one of my favorite painters of his time. To be honest, I never really considered the “stuck in the past” Burzum-Bouguereau relationship. In my opinion, the criticism that either is “stuck in the past” is missing that both parties are drawing on what was purest about the past and redefining it for their own purposes. Whether it’s Varg’s “necro” sound, or Bouguereau’s celebration of classical painterly aesthetics and female beauty.

  • Reply December 22, 2011

    Doomed to Repeat

    has a band used mengin’s sappho yet? ever see it? she’s just hangin’ out on the rocky bluffs of the island lesbos, lookin’ despondent, contemplating the brevity of life as she spaces out into the waves. it’s probably my favorite painting o.a.t. all the preraphaelite stuff rules, though.

    here it is:

    http://persephone.cps.unizar.es/~spd/Pre-Raphaelites/Big/Sappho.jpg

  • Reply December 22, 2011

    Richard

    Incredible painting, thanks! I need to check out more of his stuff now. Nice blog by the way.

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