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Evening Mood

Artist: Adolphe William Bouguereau
Created: 1882
Dimensions (cm): 108.0 x 207.5
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: National Museum of Art, Havana, Cuba

Bouguereau produced more than seven hundred finished works. Among them was the painting Evening Mood, one of the great accomplishments of his artistic career.

Like many painters of the second half of the 19th century, Bouguereau made a careful study of form and technique and steeped himself in classical sculpture and painting. Perhaps the largest volume of Bouguereau's work is secular and even sexual. He includes many themes from mythology especially of cupid who comes in the form of Bacchus, and Eros. Indeed he shares a fascination that spans many artists and art lovers over all of time. That is, the nude female. The artists who followed the traditions of the French Salon were allowed to display their love of the female form, but only if put into an acceptable context such as mythology.

Sensuous depth of emotion and idealized form characterize this classical work, Evening Mood. Bouguereau used his technical skill to depict this exquisite half covered nude, using rich color and subtle brush strokes, which were applied by hand. He went through many steps to prepare for this painting. He studied and painted in the traditions of the past. First, the quick sketch, establishing the main composition. Then a highly finished drawing of all the figures in the painting. After the drawing process, he made oil studies of the head, hands and any other relevant objects. A full-scale drawing was then made to ensure the proper placements. Only after all these steps did he proceed to the actual oil painting of Evening Mood.

Bouguereau and his peers, the Impressionists, claimed to base their work on the same foundation, reality. It was, as William Bouguereau put it, simply a matter of seeing differently and a very different definition of reality.


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