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Young Priestess

1902
71 1/4 x 32 in. (181 x 81.3 cm)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau
French (active 1825 - 1905)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Paul T. White in memory of Josephine Kryl White
Accession Number: 1973.1
Location: Currently on view
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Bouguereau's idealized figures, with their realistically-rendered surfaces and painstaking level of finish, show a technical mastery that still astonishes. Here the fluid fabrics of the priestess's garments and the drapery behind her contrast sharply with her pale flesh and the stone mosaic of the floor. The lack of context invites viewers to provide the figure with a narrative. This painting, completed when the artist was almost 80, demonstrates a return to the themes of classical antiquity that had been mainstays of his youthful work.

Bouguereau had a typical Academic education: he studied anatomy, classical literature and archaeology along with drawing and painting, and spent a year in Rome where he took inspiration from Renaissance artists. A member of the Academy throughout his career, his paintings were regularly included in the annual Salon exhibitions.

[Gallery label text, 2011]

Provenance
Sold by the artist to Tooth and Sons, London (dealers), June 1902; Bohumir Kryl (1875-1961), Chicago; his gift to his daughter and son-in-law, Josephine and Paul Taylor White, Rochester, NY; Paul T. White's gift to the Gallery in 1973

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