Monday, February 2, 2009

William Bouguereau

The Lost Pleide by William Bouguereau is the painting that I will be looking at today. Beyond the fact that this is a beautiful painting and a wonderful example of his work, I am always astounded at the supple realism of Bouguereau's skin. Since there is a full nude in this painting, I feel that it is a great example for analyzing these skin tones. The academic artists of Western Europe at this time in history had the tendency to paint skin tones (especially women's skin tones) a very pasty whitish color. This is most likely due to the attire of the time, having women generally covered from head to toe getting no sun and powdering their faces. That being said, Bouguereau had the uncanny ability to use color and tone to make these vampiric individuals look aliv, full of life really. He has a wonderful ability to mix warm tones with cool tones in order to mimic light and shadow. Subtle greens and purples are used in shadowy areas in spot appear to approximate in 2 dimensions, the translucent characteristics of skin. The light areas with their warm thick application of paint model the body with a sclpter's precision. There are lovely pink areas showing warmer blood filled areas of the body as well as veins and blue-green areas such as on the back, butt and leg areas. One could probably look at the skin tones in this painting for hours and still be baffled at how he accomplish this task. Next time I am at a museum where I am blessed enough to see one in person, I will be taking note of how he applied these paints to achieve this marvelous feat.

1 comment:

  1. There's a Bouguereau in the Amherst Museum :) I saw two more yesterday at the Met, tucked away between three Alexandre Cabanel paintings. His paintings are really utterly fascinating to see in person. I think there are a couple in the Pennsylvania area, so maybe you can hit those up some time. Sweet blog too by the way. I enjoy learning new things about artists.