The Earrings by William Adolphe Bouguereau

  • This portrait was composed by the French Neoclassical painter William Adolphe Bouguereau
  • Entitled The Earrings, it depicts a classical maiden on the cusp of womanhood
  • Influenced by the neoclassical tradition, Bouguereau is renowned for his portraits of young women
  • Get complete item description here
Price available upon request Item No. 31-5489

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William Adolphe Bouguereau
1825-1905 | French

Boucles d'oreilles
(The Earrings)


Signed ‘W-Bouguereau-1891’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas

Entitled The Earrings, this masterwork by the French Neoclassical painter William Adolphe Bouguereau is a testament to the artist’s unparalleled skill in his genre. Not only did Bouguereau possess an extraordinary ability to depict detail, but he also excelled at capturing the subtle nuances of personality and mood of his subjects. Here, his female model is at once innocent and coy as she fastens her dangling red earrings. If one looks closely, the earrings are actually ripe cherries that she has draped over her ears as she stands before the backdrop of a cherry tree. Clashing against her pale skin and white dress, the "jewelry" complements the rosy hue of her cheeks and lips in an ode to a classical representation of a virtuous beauty. Evoking a sweetness and purity, she brings to mind a young girl on the cusp of womanhood playing dress up — an enchanting character in Bouguereau’s idealized world.

In the face of rapidly shifting artistic trends, Bouguereau persevered as a proponent of the Academic tradition, and his depictions of young peasant girls such as this are among the most desirable of his oeuvre. A strict observer of the traditional artistic standards for color harmonies, composition, drawing and expression, his work embodies the ideals of French Academic painting as few others do. He received medals from the Salon and Universal Expositions, successive ranks in the prestigious Legion of Honor, and was the leading member of the Institute of France and President of the Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. His art never deviated from the basic principles of Academic training and he so dominated the Salon of the Third Republic that it became unofficially known as ‘Le Salon Bouguereau.’

In addition to the accolades of the art world, Bouguereau received many prestigious commissions to decorate public buildings including the Grand Théâtre, Bordeaux and the chapels of Sainte Clothilde, Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Augustin, Paris. He also painted decorations for private mansions of the property entrepreneurs in Paris and La Rochelle. Bouguereau’s paintings are immensely popular in the United States evidenced by the fact that his works can be found in a number of public and private collections across the country.

This work is pictured in the catalogue raisonne of the artist's work by Damien Bartoli on page 269.

Dated 1891

Canvas: 48 3/4" high x 30 1/2" wide
Frame: 57 7/8" high x 40 7/8" wide
The Earrings by William Adolphe Bouguereau
Maker: Bouguereau, William Adolphe
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: France
Type: Paintings
Depth: 4.25 Inches
Width: 40.88 Inches
Height: 57.88 Inches
Style: Academic
Canvas Width: 30.5 Inches
Canvas Height: 48.75 Inches

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