Bouguereau and America Tanya Paul, Stanton Thomas, Eric Zafran, Martha Hoppin, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Catherine Sawinski

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
12 Feb 2019
ISBN:
9780300241358
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
192 pages: 305 x 254mm
Illustrations:
150 color illus.

An in-depth exploration into the immense popularity of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s work in America throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries

Seeking to bring Gallic sophistication and worldly elegance into their galleries and drawing rooms, wealthy Americans of the late 19th and early 20th centuries collected the work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905) in record numbers. This fascinating volume offers an in-depth exploration of Bouguereau’s overwhelming popularity in turn-of-the-century America and the ways that his work—widely known from reviews, exhibitions, and inexpensive reproductions—resonated with the American public. While also lauded by the French artistic establishment and a dominant presence at the Parisian Salons, Bouguereau achieved his greatest success selling his idealized and polished paintings to a voracious American market. In this book, the authors discuss how the artist’s sensual classical maidens, Raphaelesque Madonnas, and pristine peasant children embodied the tastes of American Gilded Age patrons, and how Bouguereau’s canvases persuasively functioned as freshly painted Old Masters for collectors flush with new money.

Tanya Paul is Isabel and Alfred Bader Curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Stanton Thomas is curator of collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Petersburg, Florida.