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

Berceuse (Le coucher)

William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Berceuse (Le coucher)
signed and dated 'W-BOVGVEREAV-1873-' (lower right)
oil on canvas
44 1/8 x 34 in. (112 x 86.5 cm.)
The artist.
with Goupil & Cie., Paris, acquired from the above 23 October 1873, as Le coucher.
with Wallis & Co., London, acquired from the above, 13 November 1873.
Mr. Duncan.
His sale; Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 24 November 1965, lot 73, as Maternité.
Andrew Stone, Brentwood, California.
with Borghi & Co., by 1984.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner.
C. Vendryès, 'Bouguereau,' Dictionnaire illustré des Beaux Arts, Bouguereau, Paris, 1885, p. 49.
M. Vachon, W. Bouguereau, Paris, 1900, p. 151, as Berceuse.
M. S. Walker, 'A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings', in William Bouguereau: l’art pompier, exh. cat., Borghi & Co., New York, 1991, p. 69.
D. Bartoli and F. Ross, William Bouguereau: Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, New York, 2010, p. 152, no. 1873/12, illustrated.
New York, Borghi & Co., William Adolph Bouguereau, 1825-1905, 20 March - 20 April 1984, n.p., illustrated, as Berceuse.

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Lot Essay

Starting in 1865, Bouguereau became enamored with the theme of mothers and children and began a series of paintings dedicated to this subject matter. The first of these were set in Italy, which had greatly impressed the artist upon his recent trip there. These classical images were greatly informed by Bouguereau’s travels throughout Italy in the 1850s. Trekking from Naples all the way to Venice over a two year period, Bouguereau was frequently confronted by religious imagery, and was particularly impressed with the works of Raphael.

Berceuse (Le coucher) was painted in the artist's Paris studio in 1873 and holds a prominent place in this category of works which was particularly dear to the artist. In the present painting, a young Roman mother holds a naked infant and is gently moving him into his cradle. The central group is framed by the draped cradle to the left of the composition and the large stone fireplace that dominates the background. The figures, clearly a secularized interpretation of a Virgin and Child, are bathed in a clear, warm light and set against a dark background, while the room behind the figural group is softened by the shadows of the recesses of the interior, thereby heightening the importance of the figural group.

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