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William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s San Diego Museum of Art Debut

See 40 of the painter's once-controversial works beginning on November 9

By Jenna Miller

William-Adolphe Bouguereau's San Diego Museum of Art Debut

William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s San Diego Museum of Art Debut

The Young Shepherdess

Step into a world of early-20th-century femininity on November 9 at The San Diego Museum of Art. The museum’s new exhibit Bouguereau & America, co-organized by The Milwaukee Art Museum and The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, puts 40 of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s portraits on view, namely his long-overlooked paintings of women.

He had the curious fortune of being a realistic painter in an era when the avant-garde world was taken with Impressionism and all the new, increasingly experimental movements that were rapidly following it. (Gauguin said he only smiled at a Bouguereau painting once—when he saw one in a brothel.)  The Young Shepherdess, shown here, is typical of the French artist’s idealization of peasant women for his patrons at the time—Gilded Age aristocrats.

Taken together, his work reveals the neoclassical tastes of an upper class who continued looking back while the world changed around them.

November 9–March 15

The San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park sandiegomuseumofart

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