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The Elder Sister Painting- Bouguereau Masterpiece

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Elder Sister painting(1)

Often, one comes across paintings that shake us to our very core without troubling us but oddly comforting us. Such paintings often sing a saccharine serenade to our souls, awakening a sweet feeling we did not know we harbored until then.

The renowned painting, The Elder Sister is one such painting, crafted by William Adolphe Bouguereau which evokes unexplainable feelings. One can stare as much as one wants or needs but still would not be able to catch the subtle nuances of this painting.  

You must be thinking what is so extraordinarily special about a mundane, simplistic painting of an elder sister and his sister? Do not fret as we are here for the rescue as we enable you to decode what lies beneath this painting. 

About William Adolphe Bouguereau

William was an incredible artist who was known to be one of the most famous ones in his time. He studied arts in the heart of it, Paris where he learned the Academic style of painting and the oeuvres of the classic Renaissance artists. Due to his extensive training, the flair of his brushstrokes, and an added touch of familiarity, he was much-sought-after.  

His excellency made him a revered painter with a wealthy clientele hailing from Paris, France, England, and many more countries. He is known for his radical and unique compositions wherein he faultlessly merges mythology in a very contemporary style of manner. He has crafted a staggering 876 paintings in his lifetime and most of these artworks now adorn the walls of hundreds of world-famous museums and art galleries. 

About the Painting 

This painting was crafted by the French artist in 1869 and was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. This was acquired in 1992 as an anonymous gift which as per the museum website was a gift of an unknown person in memory of her father. Since 1992, the painting has been housed in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in the Arts of Europe section. 

Which makes it one of the most famous paintings of children. Displays a girl sitting on a rock whilst holding a sleeping baby in her youthful arms. William’s own daughter posed as the elder sister and his son, Paul as the younger sleeping brother.

The Academic style of painting that William studied as an adult is beautifully mirrored in this painting with the caring expression of the sister which matches the calm environment enveloping the two children. Academic painting style entails interspersing a scientific approach to the artwork with realistic aspects. 

Technique of Painting  

Sister Painting

Williams employs realism in this masterpiece with the aid of realistic objects like the clouds, the luscious green grass, rocks, etc. These objects are amplified by the scientific and technical use of vivid and muted colors. His exemplary exploitation of colors can be observed in minuscule details like how he includes both luscious healthy looking grass as well as rustic brown, dead shrubbery to make it look realistic. 

A solid form of perspective is sprinkled on the canvas as the sky and land are strategically separated with appropriate hues. He smartly toys with the element of light where sunlight outshines from behind the clouds with the miscellany of dark and light shades, giving the illusion of a moving sky. The breeze of air which is evident as the shrubbery adjacent to the rock seems to be swaying is a repercussion of the brilliant artisan. 

The lake behind the children seems to have a silvery and glistening effect which has been brought to life by soft and confident brushstrokes. Moreover, it beautifully depicts the sky by making a thicker cluster of foggy white clouds and light and airy clouds which seem as if done au Plein air. 

Lastly, William’s niche to emphasize meticulous details makes this painting as finely detailed as a digital photograph. The nails of the baby as well as the sister are crystal clear to the audience. The features are distinctly made and one can even see the folds hidden in the immaculate clothing in which the children are wrapped. 

Impact of painting

This masterpiece as a whole is known to appeal to the emotional side of the onlooker. Firstly, the fine lines sketched on the elder sister’s face communicates her expression of care and warmth along with a graceful composure in a crystal clear way. The girl’s eyes are directed towards the audience which seems like she is staring right into your soul.  The peacefully sleeping brother lends this masterpiece an unusually tranquil feeling. 

To complement the subjects in focus, the background setting is as sublime as it could get. The background seems to be an old town along the countryside denoted by the girl’s barefoot which evokes a rustic and vintage vibe. All in all, this masterpiece fabricates a serene aura for the onlooker. Capable of slowing down time and calming anyone down.

The Bottom Line 

The French artist, William beautifully employs the academic style in art in the Elder Sister painting. This masterpiece speaks to the audience with realistic elements at the forefront of a surreal background. The fine detailing imbued in the smallest things like the blade-like green grass or the folds in the neat garment of the children makes it an awe-inspiring piece of work.