Homer and His Guide
Homer and His Guide, 1874
Oil on canvas
82 1/4 × 56 1/4 in. (208.92 × 142.88 cm)
Layton Art Collection, Gift of Frederick Layton L1888.5
Photo credit Larry Sanders
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.
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