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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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Elizabeth Jane Gardner
Bouguereau
American painter
born 1837- died 1922

Born in: Exeter (Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States)
Died in: Saint Cloud (Stearns county, Minnesota, United States)

Nationality:
American

Student of:

Wife of:


Biographical Information

ELIZABETH GARDENER BOUGUEREAU was an American from New Hampshire who studied with William Bouguereau, later to become his second wife after the death of his first wife Nellie a few years prior. Her art historical influence is very significant, as she undoubtedly played a role in persuading her husband to use his influence as President of the Academy, Head of the Salon, and President of the Legion d'Honneur, to convince the Academie Julien (and a few years later the École des Beaux Arts) to open their doors to women for the first time in history.

There was an exhibition at the Dahesh Museum, NY, called Overcoming All Obstacles: Women Artists of the Academy Julien which featured her work and that traveled to the Clark Museum, Williamstown, Mass., and the Dixon in Memphis. The Dahesh may still stock catalogs for this show, in which Elizabeth Gardener and other important women artists of the era are featured. The catalogue raisonné of her work is currently in preparation.

A review of the show can be found at:
http://www.artrenewal.org/articles/2000/Overcoming_All_Obstacles/obstacles1.asp

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau (1837-1922), whose work, if ever mentioned, is often accused of too closely resembling that of her husband, the famous William Bouguereau. This was a criticism that originated during her lifetime. She became quite well known during her day and her response to this accusation was "I know I am criticized for not more boldly asserting my individuality, but I would rather be known as the best imitator of Bouguereau than nobody!" Clearly Gardner felt that having to suffer the criticism that her work was too similar to that of the most famous and beloved artist of the time was preferable to not being discussed at all. Although her painting technique does closely resemble the skilled hand of her husband, she does in fact have a body of stunning works, many of which express her unique voice and give her work a degree of separation.

Although currently, her name is not widely known among the general public, her paintings have become re-appreciated among 19th century collectors. One such work is The Farmer's Daughter, which sold April 23, 2010 at Sotheby's New York for the hefty sum of $494,500, which was significantly above the $200,000 to $300,000 estimate. However, compared to Pablo Picasso, who had a painting sell for $106,482,500 in May of the same year, her prices at auction still have room to grow.

- by Kara Lysandra Ross

Source

McCabe, Lida Rose. Madame Bouguereau at Work, Il 694.
E. Benezit, Grund, Vol 13, 1999, Paris, France.

   Artist Portraits

The Farmer's Daughter

Oil on canvas
170.1 x 97.4 cm
(66.97" x 38.35")
Private collection

Added: 2011-08-25

The Farmer's Daughter, first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1887 and then again at the Exposition Universelle in 1889, is about the joy of life and taking pleasure in simple things. A young beauty stands among a group of barnyard chickens on a perfect, sunny, day. She looks down at her feathered friends with a mischievous glance as she teasingly lets the golden grains fall from her fingers a few at a time. The birds gather round looking up at their loving care keeper and playfully at the viewer, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their feast. This painting reminds all onlookers to take pleasure in the simple gifts presented, to keep life in perspective, and to enjoy one's day to day existence.

In addition to demonstrating impeccable drawing skill and a fundamental grasp of powerful subject matter, Gardner demonstrates that she is an incredible colorist. She uses bold, stunning colors that grab the viewer's eye without overwhelming the message of the painting and instead embraces it. The use of two unique shades of intense blue contrasted against a rich crimson red and the girls porcelain skin, make one appreciate the color both jointly and separately from the composition. One can stand in front of this work and be awe stuck by the power of the colors used and yet when taken in context of the entire painting, it becomes clear that this is a masterpiece in its own right and that Gardner deservers full credit for her accomplishments with the brush.

- by Kara Lysandra Ross


In the Woods

1889
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Added: 2001-10-29
L'imprudente

Translated title: The Imprudent Girl
1884
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross (United States)

Added: 2001-10-29
Young Girl Holding a Basket of Grapes

Oil on canvas
Private collection

Added: 2004-08-17
Young Girl Holding a Basket of Grapes
By the Seashore

Oil on canvas
Public collection

John Lovelady
Added: 2005-09-07
By the Seashore
Young Girl at the Well

Oil on canvas
91.44 x 60.96 cm
(36" x 24")
Private collection

Added: 2012-08-29
Portrait of Rudyard Kipling's Daughter

Oil on canvas
100.965 x 66.675 cm
(39¾" x 26¼")
Private collection

Added: 2011-11-10
Sketch for Portrait of Rudyard Kipling's Daughter

-1907
Pen on blue paper
90.805 x 65.278 cm
(35¾" x 25.7")
Private collection

Added: 2011-11-10
La Becquee

Oil on canvas
165.1 x 119.38 cm
(65" x 47")
Private collection

Added: 2011-11-10
In the Garden

Oil on canvas
57.2 x 41.3 cm
(22.52" x 16.26")
Private collection

Added: 2011-08-31