Getty Debate on Bouguereau

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Getty Debate on Bouguereau

From Brian Shapiro

Published before 2005


This is on the Getty website promoting the debate:

"Was Bouguereau one of the greatest painters of the 19th century, or do his works epitomize everything negative about academic art in a period when Impressionists were challenging conventional painting techniques?"

Again, people are missing out on the fact that the 'academic' artists were the generation before the impressionists, who did, in fact, continue to make their paintings when Impressionism started. There is this recurrent theme which implies, even if it doesnt mean to state it, that they were the same generation and were some reactionaries holding the fort against impressionism.

I found the quote about Bouguereau's paintings I was thinking of before, I have a copy of the Montreal exhibition catalogue, this is in the text on the Nymphs and Satyrs painting as a quote of the critic Charles Garnier:

"...a kind of treatment that reminds one of Corregio. The color is less vivid, it is true; the slightly blackish tones give the group a rather cold look. But give this canvas a few years, allow the varnish to mellow, and the work, thus completed and tinted by time, will worthily stand as an example of one kind of great painting of our age."

And now they've removed the varnish off of one of his other paintings. Ah well.

I saw the display of the Song of Angels paintings--they include the color studies. I wonder how many docents have noted to visitors how they look impressionistic.

Brian