Urgent Museum Notice

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

A painting of a light-skinned woman with short, dark, curly hair and light grey eyes. She is depicted against a solid, dark grey background from the chest up, and wears a dark green coat over a white lace shirt with a ruffled collar and a sapphire and pearl brooch.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Portrait de Mademoiselle Elizabeth Gardner, 1879, Chimei Museum, Tainan, Taiwan

1837–1922

Bouguereau arrived in Paris in 1864 and began studying contemporary and old-master paintings. While Paris beckoned all artists, women were still barred from studying at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. Undaunted by these discriminatory practices, Bouguereau enrolled in private classes.

In 1868, she was one of the first American women to exhibit at the Paris Salon, along with Mary Cassatt. Bouguereau’s paintings were accepted into 25 Paris Salons; she also won a bronze medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. By the late 1870s, she was studying with William-Adolphe Bouguereau, whose use of rich color and portrayals of children and domestic scenes were widely acclaimed.

Religious, historical, and mythological subject matter dominated Bouguereau’s early art production. She acknowledged that her work was strongly influenced by William-Adolphe (to whom she became engaged in 1879 but did not marry until 1896). She made her own way by producing works in a monumental style most often associated with male artists.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau
  • Birth

    Exeter, New Hampshire, 1837
  • Death

    Saint-Cloud, France, 1922
  • Phonetic Spelling

    ee-LIHZ-ah-behth jay-n GAHRD-nerr boo-geh-roh

Works by Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

The Shepherd David

The Shepherd David is based on the biblical story (I Samuel 17:34) in which David proves his worthiness to fight Goliath by recounting that he fought wild beasts threatening his flock. Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau depicts a young David kneeling victoriously on a dead lion while clutching a lamb in the crook of his right arm. As he gazes to the heavens,...

Realistic painting depicts a ight-skinned young man with dark curly hair, wearing a white tunic, set before distant mountains. He is kneeling victoriously atop a fearsome dead lion, clutching a serene lamb his right arm and gesturing heavenward with his left arm.