Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Virgin with Angels

Title: The Virgin with Angels (Regina Angelorum)

Artist: William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 285 x 185 cm

Date: 1900

Location: Musée du Petit Palais, Paris

Mary, mother of Jesus, has taken on many aspects during the thousands of years that have passed since she walked the earth: Mother of God, ever virgin, Mother of the Church, Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, etc. The image of a woman crowned with twelve stars first appears in Revelation 12:1-5, where she gives birth to a male child, portending the rise of Satan as the great dragon and the final war in heaven.

All Bouguereau’s works were executed in several stages involving an initial oil sketch followed by numerous pencil drawings taken from life. Some critics contend that his prevalent use and idealization of children is often responsible for the sentimentality that mars many of his works, but the Christ child here is both natural and divine.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (November 30, 1825 – August 19, 1905) was a French academic painter. A staunch traditionalist, his realistic genre paintings and modern interpretations of Classical subjects featured a heavy emphasis on the female body. Although his work was widely collected by the English and Americans in his lifetime, Bouguereau’s reputation in France was more equivocal—indeed quite low—in his later years. Bouguereau’s detractors have unkindly likened his Madonnas to perfumed Ary Scheffers.

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