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Art Education

Slow Art–Bouguereau’s Homer and His Guide

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905), Homer and His Guide, 1874. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Frederick Layton. Photo credit Larry Sanders
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905), Homer and His Guide, 1874. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection, Gift of Frederick Layton. Photo credit Larry Sanders

It was easier to begin my 45-minute looking experience at William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Homer and His Guide than it was at Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Street at Schöneberg City Park, the subject of my last “Slow Art” post. I have loved Bouguereau for about four years now, ever since I gave gallery talks on his work at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Like Jean-Honoré Fragonard, he is not the most respectable artist for an art historian or museum educator to love: his work is sentimental, it doesn’t really push boundaries, and it is on the whole pretty safe. But I have always been drawn to the way he paints–his style is luminously realistic, ridiculously meticulous. He is one of the few painters whose figures always seem to me about to jump off the canvas.