desires of the flesh

Crazed through much child-bearing
The moon is staggering in the sky;
Moon-struck by the despairing
Glances of her wandering eye
We grope, and grope in vain,
For children born of her pain.

Children dazed or dead!
When she in all her virginal pride
First trod on the mountain's head
What stir ran through the countryside
Where every foot obeyed her glance!
What manhood led the dance!

Fly-catchers of the moon,
Our hands are blenched, our fingers seem
But slender needles of bone;
Blenched by that malicious dream
They are spread wide that each
May rend what comes in reach.

'The Crazed Moon' by William Butler Yeats

Evening Mood

Evening Mood, 1882

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Quick!  Cover your Eyes

Perhaps the largest volume of Bouguereau's work is secular and even sexual.  He includes many themes from mythology especially of cupid who comes in the form of Bacchus, and Eros.  Indeed he shares a fascination that spans many artists and art lovers over all of time.  That is, the nude female.   The artists who followed the traditions of the French Salon were allowed to display their love of the female form, but only if put into an acceptable context such as mythology.  Rebellion of this principle is exactly what caused the art of Monet to cause such a stir!  As long as the nude woman was someone people didn't know, and her pose was nonconfrontational, it was perfectly acceptable to glare at her curves.   Bouguereau followed the rules in his passions, and scorned the new up and coming artists who did not...

"...A new art!  But what for?  Art is eternal, it is unique.  Our art is the same as the art of all other times.  We do the best we can and when we do as well as our masters, that's all we can hope for!"

"Have you ever seen blue shadows?  Do you think it is very clever to create women who sweat rainbows?  Yes!  women perspiring in prismatic colors!   There are color-blind people; but that's not my fault!  There are others who think that is painting.  What do you want me to do about it?...One shouldn't believe in all those so-called innovations.  There is only one nature and only one way to see it.  Nowadays, they want to succeed too fast, this is how they go about inventing new aesthetics, pointillism, pipisme!  All this is just to make noise... We have a few masters in the nineteenth century... not to mention those still alive -- Ingres and Delacroix; water and fire, don't you think?  And still very clever people, who made no blue shadows and no tapestries and who knew how to draw!  But all these people... have no talent.  They hide their shortcomings under a display of childish tricks.   They want to put their models right into the full sun!...  This has never been done!  What do you do when you're in the sun?  You squint and make a face, and so do I!  One can't paint the sun!... Yes, I'm quite willing to have a little sun effect, there, in the background, but nobody has light on his palette!  Painters with a lot of talent have have succeeded in creating an illusion of it, like Decamps... but that's not what one should strive for... 

One has to seek Beauty and Truth, Sir!   As I always say to my pupils, you have to work to the finish.  There's only one kind of painting.  It's the painting that presents the eye with perfection, the kind of beautiful and impeccable enamel you find in Veronese and Titian...."

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Dante and Virgil in Hell
Dante
and Virgil
in Hell
1850

The Return of Spring
The
Return of
Spring
1886
Seated Nude
Seated
Nude
1884
Cupidon
Cupidon
1875
Marguerite
Marguerite
1868

Young Priestess
Young
Priestess
1902


Homer and His Guide
Homer and
His Guide
1874
Art and Literature
Art and
Literature
1867
Temptation
Temptation
1880

Orestus Pursued by the Furies
Orestus
Pursued
by the
Furies
1862

Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros
Young Girl
Defending
Herself
Against Eros
1880
The Nymphaeum
The
Nymphaeum
1878

Girl
1895
Return from Harvest
Return from
the Harvest
1878
Rest in Harvest
Rest
in Harvest
1865
Portrait of Madame Comtese de Cambaceres
Portrait
of Madame
Comtesse
de Cambacérès
1895
Zenobia Found
Zenobia Found by
Shepherds on the
Banks of the Araxes
1850
The Bathers
The
Bathers
1884
The Birth of Venus
The Birth
of Venus
1879

Work Interrupted
Work
Interrupted
1891

Nymphs and Satyr
Nymphs
and
Satyr
1873
The Proposal
The
Proposal
1872
Admiration
Admiration
1897
The First Kiss
The First
Kiss
1873

Innocence
Innocence
1893

Invading Cupid's Realm
Invading
Cupid's
Realm
1892

The Dance
The Dance
1850

Dark Beauty
Dark Beauty
1898

Home | Innocence Revisited | Maternal Contentment
Desires of the Flesh | Religious Transcendence | Lonesome Mortality

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