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Young Beggars by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

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What most modernists hated about Bouguereau was that few of them could paint like him….

When the artists of the modern movement said that they wanted to do something new and different, what they most wanted to be different from was William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905). When they dismissed nineteenth-century academic art as “sentimental”, pointless, divorced from reality, mindlessly traditional, and so on, what they had in mind was Bouguereau. To the modernists, as the Getty’s curator of painting recently said, Bouguereau was “the most abhorrent artist who ever lived.”Bouguereau had a very limited range, pretty much limited to cute girls and mythological eroticism. Paging through dozens of these, you start to wonder about a man who spent so much time painting adorable young females. And yet paintings like Young Beggars (above, 1880) and A Pleasant Burden (top of the post, 1895) are really quite charming, or at least I find them so.Best Bouguereau

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