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Song of Angels, 1881
Song of Angels, 1881
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Acquisition Number:
Original work: Oil On Canvas
Original size: 84 by 60 inches

Reproduction Size: 28.5 x 20

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a French painter, used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body.  In his own time, Bouguereau was considered to be one of the greatest painters in the world.  During the 19th century Bouguereau began exploring the subject of the secularized Madonna and Child. Although his renowned Charity, Birth of Venus, and The Martyr's Triumph are perhaps the best known of his paintings for this style, Song of the Angels has been widely acclaimed as his greatest. What is striking about this painting is the casual pose of the Virgin Mary and the artlessness of the Child. This is more a mother and son relationship, which was a reoccurring theme in Bouguereau's works.  The angels also lend a sense of reality to the painting. As the trio plays a lullaby, they really seem human and not heavenly images.  The three angels and the Madonna were painted after the likeness of the American artist, Elizabeth Jane Gardner, who would later become his wife.  Bouguereau's mastery of flesh tones made him renowned during the Victorian period.  Art history records mention that his works exhibit flesh tones, "beyond which, in texture, color and flexibility, skill of technique can no further go." This is seen in the definition and tones of each figure's skin, as the figures seem to come alive to the human eye. The original Bouguereau masterpiece, Song of the Angels, is part of Forest Lawn’s permanent collection and is on display in the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, California.