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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Jeunes Bohemiennes [Young Gypsies]  Oil on canvas, 1879  65 1/4 x 38 7/8 inches (166 x 99 cm)  Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross
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Title: Young Gypsies
Description:
William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Jeunes Bohemiennes [Young Gypsies]
Oil on canvas, 1879
65 1/4 x 38 7/8 inches (166 x 99 cm)
Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross

Bouguereau loved to exalt the poor. A gypsy mother, holding her young child in her arms, stands on an elevated plane with a back of nearly only sky. They stand so high in fact, that in the distance the ocean can be seen all the way to the horizon, symbolizing that even though the gypsies’ social status is low, they have just as much right to stand as tall and as proud. The figures both look down on the viewer, further emphasizing their elevated state. The dignity of the lower classes was a favorite theme of Bouguereau's that he depicted in many of his works. The mother and child are both beautiful showing that there modest clothing has no impact on their beauty.

Modernist ideologues love to say that Bouguereau was irrelevant to his times because he wasn’t one of the impressionists who were carving out the path to abstract expressionism. Nothing could be further from the truth. A child of the recent French and American Revolution, Bouguereau along with many artists and writers of the day, believed in the breakthroughs of Enlightenment thought: Democracy, the rights of men, “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”. Not only wasn’t it true that he was irrelevant, but nothing could have been more relevant, than works like this that ennobled and elevated ordinary people and peasants. And what better way then to take the lowest of the low in society, the Gypsies, and to raise them to the heavens? They are both beautiful without being overly pretty; 'real' and 'ideal' at the same time.



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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Jeune Fille Allant à la Fontaine [Young Girl Going to the Fountain]  Oil on canvas, 1885  63 1/8 x 28 7/8 inches (160.5 x 73.5 cm)  Dahesh Museum, New York CityWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Jeunes Bohemiennes [Young Gypsies]  Oil on canvas, 1879  65 1/4 x 38 7/8 inches (166 x 99 cm)  Collection of Fred and Sherry RossWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)   Jeune Prêtresse [Young Priestess]  Oil on canvas, 1902  71 1/4 x 31 7/8 inches (181 x 81 cm)  Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
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