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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Premier Deuil [The First Mourning]  Oil on canvas, 1888  79 7/8 x 99 1/8 inches (203 x 252 cm)  Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires
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Title: The First Mourning
Description:
William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Premier Deuil [The First Mourning]
Oil on canvas, 1888
79 7/8 x 99 1/8 inches (203 x 252 cm)
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires

The dead body of Abel lies across Adam's lap in the same manner as Christ is often depicted lying across Marys (such as in Michaelangelos Pieta). Adam clutches his heart out of grief fearing it will break and Eve kneels by his side crying uncontrollably, her face buried in her hands. The image is truly heart wrenching, causing the viewer to feel a great sense of compassion for the grieving couple. Bouguereau can capture the look of death with almost frightening directness. He was no stranger to death or to grief. He had five sons, four of whom died before him. First Mourning was painted directly after the death of his second son. This piece is well titled as The First Mourning because it is the first time a human has had to suffer the loss of a loved one. The grief is only magnified by the fact that their son did not just die, but was murdered by their other son Cain, making this also the first act of murder. Cain then fled, leaving Adam and Eve once again alone. Bougureau also cleverly used a play on words in titling this work, because not only are Adam and Eve mourning, but dawn approaches. It is the first 'morning' after the death of Abel. The paining has the same theme as the sculpture First Mourning by Barrias which is located at the Petits Palais in Paris. Bouguereau and Barrias lived and worked during the same period, and both these works were masterpieces that helped to define their creators.

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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Boucles D'Oreilles [The earrings]  Oil on canvas, 1891  Public collectionWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Premier Deuil [The First Mourning]  Oil on canvas, 1888  79 7/8 x 99 1/8 inches (203 x 252 cm)  Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos AiresWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Flagellation de Notre Seigneur Jsus Christ [The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ]  Oil on canvas, 1880  121 5/8 x 83 3/8 inches (309 x 212 cm)  Cathedral of La Rochelle, La Rochelle
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