After remaining with the painter's descendants for many years, this unique group of works from his studio illustrated his virtuosic ability to capture expression and feeling, with a grand total of €431,360.
William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905), Loin du pays (Far from Home) (reduction), oil on panel, 66 x 44.5 cm.
This was the case with an ecstatic Portrait of a woman with her head thrown back: a superb painting of one of his anonymous models. The contrast between the exquisitely rendered face and the blank canvas background was not the least of its assets, which led several rivals to battle for it up to €56,250 after an estimate of €15,000. Another figure taken from life, a Young woman with head bent on her shoulder (41 x 33 cm) with an almost pre-Raphaelite feel, fetched €45,000, while a Portrait of a woman looking to the left (46 x 38 cm) landed €38,750. Meanwhile, the Portrait of Élize Brugière, c. 1895-1896 (46 x 36 cm), attracted €18,750. But as we know, the academic artist excelled in the depiction of somewhat imaginary figures from Antiquity, like the Priestess of Bacchus, also on canvas (41 x 33 cm) who received an offering of €42,500. The fragility of children was frequently depicted by Bouguereau, who also used them as his favourite models in highly acclaimed works. Here, these included a Girl in a white tunic and a Portrait of a little girl with a blue ribbon, again oils on canvas, adopted respectively for €36,250 and €28,750 (41 x 33 cm each). However, the highest bid (€60,000) was inspired by a genre scene with young female street musicians – a sentimental subject that earned Bouguereau international fame: Loin du pays (Far from Home) (66 x 44.5 cm). We should just mention that this is a reduction: a process the painter often used to satisfy his numerous admirers…