The Elder Sister, 1869
Beck Building 220 McNair Gallery
William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) was one of the most successful artists of the nineteenth century. He was a graduate of Escole des Beaux-Arts, winner of the Prix de Rome, and a member of the French Academy. Bouguereau’s early studies included anatomical dissections, historical costumes and archeology, later he studied painting in the academic style under Franccois-Edouard Picot. He was known for use of peasant girls and women in his paintings.
The Elder Sister was painted by Bouguereau in 1869. It became part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston permanent collection in 1992 through a gift from an anonymous donor honoring their father.
When examining this piece of artwork one can easily recognize a young girl affectionately holding a sleeping younger sibling while surrounded by peaceful landscape. The tender look in the “elder sisters” eyes and her slight smile enhances the appearance of her feelings for the younger sibling.
There are two implied directional lines guiding your attention back toward the figures. One also separates the foreground from the background.
This piece of art is an oil painting on canvas measuring 97.2 x 130.2 (unframed). Bouguereau’s use of small light brushstrokes creates a smooth surface giving the artwork an almost picture perfect quality. The brushstrokes used in the shirts neckline and sleeves, and in the skirt create implied texture. Including those in the sleeping sibling’s hair creating a soft wispy appearance.
There are two sources of light in The Elder Sister. One is from the sky to the left of the “elder sister.” This source illuminates the “elder sisters” left arm, lap, and right foot, casting a shadow on the ledge beneath were she is sitting. The second comes from the sky to the right casting a shadow on the “elder sisters” arm under the siblings head and the shrubbery on the lower right.
Bouguereau created a wide spectrum of colors....