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William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Property of a Prince
William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)

Entre la richesse et l'amour

Details
William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Entre la richesse et l'amour
dated and signed '-1869-/W-BOVGVEREAV' (lower right)
oil on canvas
41 7/8 x 35 in. (106.5 x 89 cm.)
Provenance
The artist.
with Goupil & Cie., Paris, acquired from the above, 27 January 1869.
James H. Stebbins, Paris and New York, acquired from the above, 1 December 1869.
His sale, American Art Association, New York, 12 February 1889, lot 75, as Hesitating between Love and Riches.
W. Sutton.
Anonymous sale; American Art Association, New York, 4-5 April 1918, lot 176, as Hesitating between Love and Riches.
Col. James Elverson, Jr. (1869-1929), Philadelphia, by 1918.
His sale; Samuel Freeman & Co., Philadelphia 17-18 April 1944, lot 195, as The Crucial Moment.
with The Pekin Galleries, New York.
Andrew Stone, Brentwood, California.
with Borghi & Co., New York, by 1984.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
C. Vendryès, 'Bouguereau,' Dictionnaire illustré des Beaux Arts, Bouguereau, Paris, 1885, p. 38.
C. comte de Franqueville, Le premier siècle de l'Institut de France : 25 octobre 1795-25 octobre 1895, Paris, 1895, p. 370.
M. Vachon, W. Bouguereau, Paris, 1900, p. 149, as Entre l'amour et la richesse.
M. S. Walker, 'A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings', in William Bouguereau: l’art pompier, exh. cat., Borghi & Co., New York, 1991, p. 67.
D. Bartoli and F. Ross, William Bouguereau: His Life and Works, New York, 2010, pp. 180-181, illustrated pl. 78.
D. Bartoli and F. Ross, William Bouguereau: Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, New York, 2010, pp. 112-113, no. 1869/01, illustrated.
Exhibited
Paris, Salon, 1869, no. 292.
New York, Borghi & Co., William Adolph Bouguereau, 1825-1905, 20 March - 20 April 1984. n.p, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

Entre la richesse et l’amour has an interesting and varied history. As usual, Bouguereau sold this painting to Goupil on 27 January 1869. It was sold on in December of the same year to James H. Stebbins of New York, who was an avid art collector and the President of the Citizens Gas Light Company. The work found its way into the private collection of Colonel James Elverson, Jr., an avid stamp collector, yachtsman, clock collector and member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. It remained in American collections until late in the 20th century.
Beginning in 1869, images denoting a new aesthetic interest on the part of the artist began to appear in Bouguereau’s oeuvre of which the present painting is the first. These paintings, populated by figures in Renaissance costume of the 16th century, are interesting as they are the manifestation of a new interest in a historical period that had not previously attracted him. There is no documentary evidence to explain why the artist chose this particular period, and there are only six pictures in the artist’s extensive oeuvre that belong to this group, the other five being Le fleur d’aubépine, Le collier des perles, Séduction, La femme au gant and a sketch very similar to Séduction which remained in the artist’s studio. Perhaps a confluence of current events, the artist’s personal rediscovery of the works of Goethe and a developing relationship with Charles Gounod may have contributed to this new interest. The impact of literature and opera on the intellectual and artistic life of the 19th century cannot be underestimated. When Gounod was revising his Faust for the Paris Opéra in 1867 and 1868, he probably discussed this with Bouguereau who may even have attended one of the earliest rehearsals for the new version. The success of Gounod’s revised opera, with its themes of love, death and sin may have influenced this slight diversion in Bouguereau’s choice of subject matter.
Entre la richesse et l’amour depicts a young girl, demurely dressed in a rose-colored gown, seated between two suitors; an old grey-bearded man offering a jewelry box and a young musician, his hand over his heart as if that is the only offering he can make. Her hands are folded in her lap and she looks softly out of the picture frame, her gaze turned away from both suitors, her enigmatic smile revealing nothing about her ultimate choice. The narrative and interpretive aspects of the painting, as well as its setting in the 16th century, make Entre la richesse et l’amour a unique example of the abilities of the foremost master of academic painting in the 19th century.

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