19th Century European Paintings

Unveiling an Icon: William Bouguereau's Monumental Masterpiece

By Sotheby's

H idden in William Bouguereau’s Paris atelier since the nineteenth century, La Jeunesse de Bacchus is now coming to the market for the first time since it was painted, reintroducing this masterwork as a highlight of our Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art (14 May 2019).

Among the artist’s most ambitious and monumental canvases, this masterpiece debuted at the Paris Salon of 1884 and remained in the artist’s collection until his death. Passing through generations of descendants, La Jeunesse de Bacchus emerged from Bouguereau’s studio only once in the past century when it was the centerpiece of the artist’s 1984 international retrospective exhibition.

William Bouguereau, La Jeunesse de Bacchus, 1884

The unveiling of this icon invites a dynamic opportunity to consider the past, present and future of this composition – inspired by Classical myth and almost mythical itself. The epic parade of life sized satyrs, centaurs and dancing maenads is exquisitely rendered through the virtuosic vision of one of art history’s greatest masters. A tour de force of line and color on the grandest scale, every element compels immediate appreciation and close examination.

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