OIL PAINTING: Au Bord du Ruisseau [At the Edge of the Brook], 1875
Bouguereau was trained and worked within the French academic tradition, whose standards of excellence were based on neo-classical interpretations of antiquity and whose models of style and interpretation were the work of Jacques Louis David and J. A. D. Ingres. He was almost an exact contemporary of Jean-Leon Gerome, whose Almeh Performing the Sword Dance is also in the Johnson Museum. Like Gerome, Bouguereau was an excellent draftsman and meticulous painter, famous for the luminous quality he gave to the depiction of flesh. He enjoyed great success throughout his career and unlike many other academic painters, did not slide into obscurity during the twentieth century. Bouguereau specialized in paintings of beautiful women, innocent peasant girls, serene Madonnas, and pristine nudes. Bouguereau was very popular with American collectors, who appreciated his detailed style and idealized subjects.