Artist: William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Title: Secrets de l'Amour (1896)
signed and dated 'W. Bouguereau 1896' (lower left)
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 51¼ x 36 in. (130.1 x 91.4 cm.)
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and forces us to take a break from painting. Around 1986 William Adolphe Bougereau married Elizabeth Gardner, one of his former pupils. Naturally his productivity began to decline as well, as he found himself attending to matters of the heart.
Secrets d'amour belongs to the host of "fantasy paintings" inspired by classical antiquity, or rather visual translations of Classical poets. Marius Vachon reports that in his interview with the artist, Bouguereau claimed to find constant inspiration in antiquity, which he eagerly transferred onto canvas because it provided an inexhaustible source for exploring themes of intemporality. His objective in these artistic explorations was to achieve beauty of form and harmonies of color in order to work up compositions which were at once charming, gracious and delicate. No doubt inspired by the artist's reading of Pausanias, to whose work he had always been partial, Bouguereau's pictorial dream world developed gradually through the years, reaching its apogee during the 1890s.
Here a beautiful young woman stand next to a fountain. As she seems to contemplate something a winged angel whispers to her. The cupid is a symbol of love and thereby has the girl under it's spell.
Bouguereau seldomly painted the same theme twice, yet this painting bears great similraity to
. The girl stands in a similar pose, but without the present of cupid. Odile Charpentier, who was a Parisian model often posed for the artist and can be seen in
Sometimes I wonder does the artist feel he has fallen in love, or does his love for painting beckons him back to the easel.
Curve balls come in many forms, but for an artist being deprived of studio time is the secret love truly yearned for.