Homer and His Guide (Homère et son guide)

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905)
Homer and His Guide (Homère et son guide), 1874
Oil on canvas
82 1/4 x 56 1/4 in. (208.92 x 142.88 cm) framed: 99 1/2 × 73 3/4 × 5 1/2 in. (252.73 × 187.33 × 13.97 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
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Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888–2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, pp. 44–45, 73, 83, 98–103, 117, 231, 406, 456, color pl. 4, p. 99, color illus. p. 83, color detail pp. 100–01, 102, and 103, color photo of installation p. 379, and 389, b/w photo of installation pp. 119, 125, 150, and 155.

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Exhibition History
Classicisims, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, February 16–June 11, 2017.

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.