Homer and His Guide

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905)
Homer and His Guide, 1874
Oil on canvas
82 1/4 × 56 1/4 in. (208.92 × 142.88 cm)
Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of Frederick Layton L1888.5
Photo credit: Larry Sanders
Currently on View

Carrying on the Neoclassical tradition of David and Ingres, William-Adolphe Bouguereau dominated French academic painting of the late 19th century. Before becoming identified with beautifully crafted, albeit sentimental, images of women and children, Bouguereau concentrated on elevated religious and mythological subjects that historically were the acme of pictorial subject matter. André Chenier’s poem describing shepherds offering their service after hearing the blind Greek poet Homer praying for a guide furnished Bouguereau with a special theme for this painting. The 18th-century French poet Chenier found his inspiration in ancient classical models, as did the Neoclassical painters. Thus by giving visual expression to Chenier’s poem, Bouguereau also subtly managed to demonstrate his ideological support of academic painting.

Publication History
Sawinski, Catherine. Mr. Layton's Gallery--The Salon-Style Hang. Entry posted April 12, 2013. (accessed October 28, 2014).

Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888 – 2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, p. 98-103, color pl. 4, p. 99, color illus. p. 83, color detail p. 100-1, 102, 103, photo of installation p. 119, 125, 150, 155, 379, 389.

Cole, Thomas B. JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association 303, no. 9, p. 817, illus. cover.

Peck, James F. In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau and his American Students. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Philbrook Museum of Art and New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2006, pl. 24, color pl. 6.

Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 20, 68, cat. 24, color illus. p. 20.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 88, color illus.

Wissman, Fronia E. Bouguereau. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996. color illus. pl. 52.

Takahashi, Akiya, and Ruth Berson. Paris en 1874: L’annee de L’impressionisme. Tokyo, Japan: Le Yomiuri Shimbun, 1994, cat. 52, color illus. p. 124.

Mainardi, Patriacia. The End of the Salon, Art and the State in the Early Third Republic. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 52, pl. 9.

de Fernandez-Gimenez, Elizabeth Ourusoff . Cornerstones of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin Academy Review Magazine 36, no. 4 (September 1990): illus. p. 12.

Milwaukee Art Museum. 1888: Frederick Layton and His World. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1988, p. 98–9, cat. 31, color illus. p. 99.

Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 84, color illus. p. 84.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. William Bouguereau, 1825-1905. Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1984, cat. 62, color illus.

Isaacson, Robert. William-Adolphe Bouguereau. New York: New York Cultural Center, 1974, cat. 10, illus.

Milwaukee Art Center. Mirrors of the 19th Century Taste: Academic Painting. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Center, 1974, cat. 12.

Milwaukee Journal, Editorial Page, October 9, 1960, illus.

Vachon, Maurice. W. Bouguereau. Paris: A Lahure, 1900, p. 151.

American Art Association. Catalogue of the A.T. Stewart Collection of Paintings, Sculptures, and Other Objects of Art to the Sold by Auction. New York: American Art Association, 1887, no. 73.

Vendryes, C. & L. Baschet, ed. Catalog illustre des oeuvres de W. Bouguereau. Paris, 1885, p. 49-50, illlus.

Strahan, Edward. The Art Treasures of America, Being the Choicest Works of Art in Public and Private Collections of North America. Vol. 1. Philadelphia: Barrie, 1879 and 1980, p. 44, illus. p. 44.

Strahan, Edward. The Chefs-d’Oeuvres d’Art of the International Exhibition. 1878, p. 28.
Exhibition History
1874: The Year of Impressionism, The National Museum of Western Art, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, September 20–November 27, 1994.

1888: Frederick Layton and His World, Milwaukee Art Museum, April 8–August 28, 1988.

William Bouguereau, 1825-1905, Musee du Petit-Palais, February 9–May 6, 1984; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, June 22–September 23, 1984; The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, October 27, 1984–January 13, 1985.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, New York Cultural Center, December 13, 1974–February 2, 1975.

Mirrors of 19th Century Taste: Academic Painting, Milwaukee Art Center, July 14–August 25, 1974.

Paris Salon, 1874.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.