OIL PAINTING: L'Assaut [The Assault], 1898
Replicas were economical for Bouguereau to produce because they sold well and spared him the labor of creating a new composition. Bouguereau planned his paintings in painstaking detail, sketching the composition in oil and making detailed drawings of each figure before committing to a final design. Once he began painting, he allowed few changes. For example X-rays of Virgin of the Angels reveal almost no changes or corrections; the artist only shifted the position of a few pegs on the violin played by the angel at the center.
This technical perfection was foreign to the sensibility of younger artists such as the Impressionists, who shocked Bouguereau's public with their spontaneous technique and visible brushstrokes. The installation lets us compare Bouguereau paintings to one another and to those of his more avant-garde contemporaries Claude Monet
, Vincent van Gogh
, and Paul Cézanne, which are displayed in the adjoining gallery.