La Bourrique

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William Adolphe Bouguereau

1825-1905

French Academic Classical painter, teacher, frescoist and draftsman

La Bourrique

The Horseback Ride

1884

101.5 x 137 cms | 39 3/4 x 53 3/4 ins
Oil on canvas

Berkshire Museum

Pittsfield | United States

The Horseback Ride is truly a painting about the joys of childhood, and is yet another one of Bouguereau's celebrations of life. Two girls play amidst the beauty of nature one on the others back. Both children are dressed in peasants clothing, showing that despite their lack of money and social status, they still can, and are experiencing great joy in their lives. This image is also an expression of friendship. The one girl is willing to support the other, and her smile indicates the willingness and joy she takes in the task. The girl on top, though perhaps a bit nervous, trusts in the other not to drop her. There is also a slightly removed quality to the young rider. Even though she is supposed to be enjoying the game her expression shows that perhaps there is not as much joy in it as there once was. This could indicate that she is growing up and leaving her childhood behind her. Bouguereau could be saying to enjoy our childhood while it lasts, because as the young rider is learning, it is indeed very short. (See: Edge of the River.)

-- by Kara Ross