William Adolphe Bouguereau, a French academic painter was born on 30 November 1825 in La Rochelle. Due to strained family relationships, the little Bouguereau was sent to his uncle to Mortagne. That was probably fate, because the uncle supported his inclination to art and painting. He received his first lessons in painting early on.
Before Bouguereau began studying in 1846 at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, a state college of fine arts, he worked in the studio of Francois Picot. There he was one of the best students and in 1850 he even won with his painting "Zenobia found at a flock of sheep" the Rome Price, an award for visual artists of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. This enabled him to spend a year at the Villa Medici in Rome, where in addition to formal lessons, he was allowed to study the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
Bouguereau was probably the most famous French artist of his time, not only in France, but also in other countries. Classical and historical themes that he developed in his works were characterized by technical realism and academic classicism. Greek models were the inspiration for his mythological and allegorical pictures. He interpreted the classical subjects and, at the same time, created an idealized world, somewhat sentimental and sensual. William Bouguereau also painted pre-Raphaelite-style religious paintings.
His painting technique was photorealistic and perfected. William Bouguereau strove for immaculate technology down to the smallest detail. His works were often exhibited in the salon. He received many commissions for private homes, public institutions, and decorated the chapels of the Parisian churches. In 1876 he became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts.
The painter was very successful, both financially and artistically, and also enjoyed social recognition. But the artist also experienced the death of three children and his first wife. The personal grief led William Bouguereau to create his religious works, such as "The Pietas". In 1900, his only surviving son fell ill and died. This tragedy had an irreversible impact on the health of the already 75-year-old artist. From day to day he felt worse and worse. In 1905, Bouguereau eventually died of heart failure in his birthplace in La Rochelle.