William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
oil on fabric, Framed: 132 x 99 x 10.6 cm (51 15/16 x 38 15/16 x 4 1/8 in.); Unframed: 104 x 71 cm (40 15/16 x 27 15/16 in.). Gift of the Frances W. Ingalls Trust 1996.272
Seated on a stone step in the countryside, a young girl has realized that her calling in life is to be an artist. Bouguereau was famous for his innovative depictions of children. In 1900 a critic wrote, "[F]ew artists have represented childhood with more tenderness, charm, and spirit than Bouguereauâ€¦[H]e has invented the most picturesque, the most pleasing, the most original scenes of an almost endless variety." Bouguereau was no less famous for his remarkably life-like images. Here he convincingly captures the girl's rough clothing, soft skin, and intense gaze.
Bouguereau painted this work in La Rochelle, a harbor city on France's west coast. During the later years of his life, Bouguereau-by then wealthy and famous-made a habit of spending summers in La Rochelle. There the artist lived in a mansion he owned near the port, working in a greenhouse he had converted into a studio or in the countryside. While in La Rochelle, Bouguereau chose his models from among farm workers, families of local fishermen, or his own servants.
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.