Self-portrait (1879) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Self-portrait - William-Adolphe Bouguereau - 1879

Artwork Information

ArtistWilliam-Adolphe Bouguereau
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions38.5 x 46.5 cm
Art MovementAcademicism
Current LocationMontreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), Montreal, Canada

About Self-portrait

The artwork “Self-portrait” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, created in 1879, is an oil on canvas that measures 38.5 x 46.5 cm and is housed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) in Montreal, Canada. This work is a significant example of the Academicism movement, showcasing the artist’s technical skill and classical approach to portraiture.

The self-portrait features a bust-length representation of Bouguereau, who gazes directly at the viewer with a self-assured, penetrating look. Demonstrating his mastery of the Academic style, the painting is characterized by a smooth, almost invisible brushwork that imparts a luminous, almost lifelike quality to the flesh tones. The artist’s face is rendered with meticulous attention to detail, capturing the finer nuances of his expression, from the furrowed brow to the intensity of his eyes, which exudes an air of intelligence and introspection. The carefully groomed beard and mustache, along with wisps of grey in his otherwise dark hair, suggest the wisdom and experience of middle age.

Bouguereau is depicted wearing formal attire, likely indicating his status and respectability as an accomplished artist of his time. The subtle interplay of light and shadow across his facial features and clothing highlights his skill in creating dimensionality and texture. A hint of red, seen in what seems to be a decoration or button on his lapel, draws the eye and adds a delicate touch of color to the otherwise subdued palette dominated by earthy and dark tones.

In summary, this self-portrait stands not just as a personal reflection of Bouguereau himself, but also as a testament to the principles and aesthetic values of the Academic art movement, serving as a visual expression of the artist’s identity and his place within the art historical tradition.

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