William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905). ...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionWilliam Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
La leçon de flûte, 1868
Oil on canvas
46 x 35 inches (116.8 x 88.9 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: W. Bouguereau 1868
PROPERTY FROM A PROMINENT HOUSTON ESTATE
Goupil & Cie, Paris, acquired from the above, December 15, 1868;
Hollender of Brussels, acquired from the above, February 19, 1869;
Hammer Galleries, New York;
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1973.
Bouguereau's accounts as La leçon de flûte;
Goupil's stockbooks and sales records (no. 3792) as La leçon de musique;
C. Vendryès, William Bouguereau, Paris, 1885, p. 38 as La leçon de flûte;
C. Franquet (Comte de Franqueville), Le premier siècle de l'Institut de France, Paris, 1895, p. 370 as La leçon de flûte;
M. Vachon, William Bouguereau, Paris, 1900, p. 149 as La leçon de flûte;
D. Bartoli and F. Ross, William Bouguereau, Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, Vol. II, New York, 2010, p. 112, no. 1868/15 as La leçon de flûte, pl. 89 illustrated.
In the 1860s, Bouguereau beguiled his audience with Italian pastoral subjects, many featuring the feminine charms of modern day Madonnas. Differing from these many works is The flute lesson where the artist has chosen instead to depict a father introducing his young child to the delights of music. As the patient teacher gently embraces the young one and steadies the instrument, the mastery of Bouguereau's brush breathes such life into the figures that the viewer can almost hear the first tentative notes from the little student's efforts. Bouguereau's accomplished handling can also be seen in the description of the various textures: the hardness of stone, the softness of the child's chemise. Equally compelling is the artist's sureness in the harmony of line and color that produces a wonderful balance between these country folk and the rugged mountain setting.
In its discussion of the musical instruments depicted in this painting, the catalogue raisonné of the artist notes that Bouguereau has portrayed not a flute but a piffero, a double-reed oboe-type instrument played in the mountains of the Apennines and elsewhere in Italy. Also pictured to the right of the young father is a zampogna, a double-chantered bagpipe, a traditional instrument played in The Marches and southward into Sicily. These instruments were often played together and were the livelihood of traveling musicians who were frequently depicted entertaining city folk in popular contemporary pictures. In the present picture, however, the viewer is treated to a tender moment between the musicians at home, playing the traditional music of Italy just for themselves.
Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000.
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