All Souls Part 2 – W-A Bouguereau

Day of ther DeadContinuing with this – some might think – slightly morbid theme, here – for your contemplation – is an image relating to All Souls, by the 19th century French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  Bouguereau is a much-abused figure – partly because he greatly disliked the Impressionists and the feeling was mutual.  John Berger, I seem to remember, also had it in for him.  I don’t have the impression that he has ever quite been rehabilitated in that the way that his English equivalents have been – Lord Leighton perhaps? Waterhouse? – but whenever I see one of his paintings in a gallery I find myself drawn to it, for reasons I probably couldn’t adequately explain.  This, for instance, used to be on display in the entrance hall of the Birmingham City Art Gallery, but seemed to have vanished the last time I visited, much to my disappointment –


(This reproduction  doesn’t, unfortunately, quite convey the luminosity of the paint).

Luminosity of the paint?  What are you on about now? Do you mean it glows it the dark?  My littleun’s got one like that in her bedroom. – The Plain People of Leicestershire.

No, I don’t mean that.  I just meant that whatever it is that attracts me to this painting – and it isn’t, incidentally, the sentimentalised depiction of poverty – hasn’t quite survived the transition to the internet.

3 thoughts on “All Souls Part 2 – W-A Bouguereau

  1. These paintings are absolutely stunning. I’m not familiar with Bouguereau at all, but I agree that there are comparisons to be drawn with the Pre-Raphaelites. Possibly what Waterhouse would have done if he had had Rossetti’s disposition (and drug habit) and the moral compass of Holl, Dore or Fildes? Just beautiful. Thank you.

  2. I did wonder if you were related to that Raven-Hill – how lucky you are! I don’t have the money, either, unfortunately.

    (As you can probably tell from the picture at the top of my blog (which is a Punch drawing from a slighter later period) I’m a great fan of Punch artists from that era).

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