The Farmer's Daughter

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Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau


American Academic Classical painter

The Farmer's Daughter

170.1 x 97.4 cms | 66 3/4 x 38 1/4 ins
Oil on canvas

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