Letter to ARC

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Letter to ARC

From Michael Cobb

Published before 2005


My first experience of a Bouguereau painting was much like yours, down to the chills running down my spine. There was a painting in the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth of a mother and child sitting under a tree, with the child lolling back off the mother's lap, a tree overhead and water at her feet, and she was floating in space! holographic! I looked at the name, had never seen it before, and thought maybe there was something wrong with me, because I thought I knew what constituted quality in art, but if I never heard of this guy, I MUST be wrong. I came back to Austin, went to the city library, the University of Texas library and the Art History Library, and found NOTHING in English, French or German. By now, I'm thinking I must be an idiot. Then, six months later, I'm reading an interview with Salvador Dali, wherein he comments that Bouguereau and Meissonier could both paint a thousand times better than the Divine Dali, and I thought, "YES!"

I went back to the Kimbell to see this masterpiece again, and was told it was in the vault because there was some dispute as to the signature. I asked, "If you could paint better than anyone who ever lived, would you put someone else's name on your work?", but apparently art historians are too close to their work to SEE the art.

I recently went back to the Kimbell, and the person I asked couldn't find the painting in their database. If I'd known they didn't want it, I'd have offered to haul it off for them.