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Currently shown
William Bouguereau

Self-portrait

Artist

William Bouguereau
La Rochelle 1825 – La Rochelle 1905

Title

Self-portrait

Date

1879

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

46 x 38 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1984.16

Collection

Western Art

In this work, Bouguereau depicted himself at the age of 54, in the prime of life, in three-quarter view and facing forward in a solemn pose, the insignia of the Legion of Honour on his lapel. A comparison with photographs of the artist reveals that, to show himself off to best advantage, he made his nose and ear smaller than they really were.


Bouguereau executed eight self-portraits at various times during his life. This one formed a pendant to a portrait of Elizabeth Jane Gardner, the American-born painter he would marry in 1896. Painted in 1879, the two works made up a pair and, for Bouguereau, were a token of love for his fiancée.

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