Museum Essay

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Judge, Stephanie
Art 100
Museum Essay and Online Museum Essay

"William-Adolphe Bouguereau Biography." Bouguereau Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2012. <>.
"MFAH | Top 100 Highlights | #1 - The Elder Sister." MFAH | Top 100 Highlights | #1 - The Elder Sister. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2012. <>.

Online Museum Essay

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)
The Elder Sister, 1869
Oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 38 ¼ inches
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

One of the finest French artists of the 19th century thought of by many is William Bouguereau. He was well known for his traditional academic style and depicted paintings in such a way where they would seem life like and flawless taking away any imperfections. He was admired by the wealthy and known for painting portraits of others, in which he won many awards for. He also enjoyed painting portraits of his children. In Bouguereau’s The Elder Sister he created a life like portrait of his daughter and son on canvas in 1869. One thing that distinguished him from other artists was his attention to precise detail. It has been said that there were no other artists were as original that could create such beautiful paintings as him. When taking a closer look at this particular painting The Elders Sister, it becomes evident why he is considered one of the finest 19th century artists.

Bouguereau’s The Elder Sister is a traditional oil painting on canvas that measures 51 ¼ x 38 ¼ inches. At first glance the viewer will notice the overall soft contoured lines while looking at a pair of young children, whom are surrounded by rural landscape into the vanishing point that meets the cloudy blue-grey sky in the horizon. The elements of analogous earth tones seen throughout the painting are accompanied by a few complimentary colors seen on the children’s clothing which produce a great sense of calmness and ease. The composition as a whole is asymmetrically balanced by a dark pigmented green bush in the right near corner which is placed beside the children. To the left of them is a small grayish house that displays fine lines and geometric shapes that depicts organic tall green trees that hover well above the house. The positive shape and focal point of the composition is the elder sister whom is sitting in the near distance on a rock, which is covered by abstract textures and shades of green grass that surround the whole landscape. Slouched a bit forward, one arm is quietly holding her sleeping infant brother while cradling his small torso as her other arm rests vertically over his legs onto her right knee as she gazes directly at the viewer with an intense stare. The infant seems to be comfortable in her arms by the way he is laying. Noticeably the children are exquisitely portrayed leaving no signs of any flaws. They are dressed in earth toned pristine clothing, which are painted with such delicacy and show great detail in the value. In the distance behind the space where the infant’s head lays a small pond below what appears to be grassy hills and mountains, these all appear smaller than the children which create depth and distance. Above the horizon towards the vanishing point shows a sky filled with darkened clouds combined with lighter ones that appear to encompass the top portion of the plane down to the waist of the girl.

The way in which Bouguereau painted represents how passionate he was in depicting what he saw. The way the portrait is conveyed creates unity and keeps every element of the painting easy for the viewer to follow. One example would be the use of rhythm and repetition used in the clouds. It is evident that he displayed complete control when creating the contoured and implied lines in the space. The overview of The Elder Sister is yet a timeless work of art and creates a perfected masterpiece...
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