This small but superb portrait of Elize Brugière, one of the artist's favourite models, with its monochromatic background, is typical of the studies that Bouguereau painted in preparation for his large paintings. In fact, this sketch, painted in 1895-96, was meant as a study for his famous work titled L'admiration, exhibited at the San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas.
In January 1921, one of Bouguereau's students, the painter Robert Marc, put together an exhibit dedicated to his teacher in the Dewambez Gallery. On this occasion, the chronicler Liandre Vaillat who reviewed the event for the French weekly 'L'Illustration' describes the way Bouguereau worked as Robert Marc had explained it to him:
'There are many portraits that show us the way in which he worked: some represent Italian models, others French models.
Bouguereau painted these works quite rapidly, often in the space of four hours, and would then place sketches next to him while working on the larger painting.'
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Damien Bartoli with the assistance of Fred Ross, the Bouguereau Committee and the Art Renewal Center.