Lot 30
  • 30

William Bouguereau

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • William-Adolphe Bouguereau
  • Souvenir
  • signed W-BOUGUEREAU- and dated 1894 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 28 by 20 in.
  • 71.1 by 50.8 cm


Arthur Tooth & Sons, London (acquired directly from the artist)
Leon Mandel (acquired from the above and sold, American Art Association, New York, January 16-17, 1917, lot 49, illustrated, as Reverie by the Sea)
Captain Marion McMillan (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, Connecticut
Sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, May 8, 1947, lot 41, illustrated (as Reverie by the Sea and as dated 1884)
Hammer Galleries, New York
Private Collector, Tulsa, Oklahoma (acquired from the above December 1948)
Thence by descent


Franqueville, William Bouguereau, Paris, 1895, n.p.
Mark Steven Walker, "William-Adolphe Bouguereau, A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, L'Art Pompier, exh. cat., Borghi & Co., New York, 1992, p. 74
Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross, William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, New York, 2010, pp. 288-9. no. 1894/03, illustrated p. 288

Catalogue Note

While an oil study for Souvenir exists in the collection of the Musée d’Évreux, the present work has only been known through a photograph for decades.

Given the vast landscape in the background and the sea beyond, Souvenir was likely painted in La Rochelle, where Bouguereau spent the summer of 1894. The model appears in a number of canvases from the period, including Bacchante (1894, and sold in these rooms, November 3, 1999, lot 50), a “fantasy” painting where Bouguereau amplifies a sense of antiquity through the inclusion of props and choice of setting, and in Le Secret (1894, Private Collection, United States). In his choice of a model with recognizably Italian features, Bouguereau invites a correlation between an idealized vision of antiquity and the contemporary Italian peasant – a popular motif in an increasingly urbanized world that romanticized the implied simplicity and honesty of rural living and fueled demand for this subject matter.  

Bouguereau’s peasants often wore colorful scarves or other headpieces (see Moissonneuse, 1868, sold in these rooms May 9, 2013, lot 7; or Glaneuse, 1894, sold in these rooms, October 24, 2007, lot 41), and he also covered the heads of women in his religious compositions with a humble white or grey cloth (see Notre Dame des Anges, 1889, Private Collection; or La Vierge aux Anges, 1881, Museum of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, California). Both Souvenir and Le Secret, with the model’s head draped serenely in a white cloth, may relate to Bouguereau’s 1894 Salon submission, L’innocence (1894, present whereabouts unknown), although they do not share the overt religious overtones or maternal narrative.  A contemporary English periodical remarked: “In 1894 [Bouguereau’s] contributions to the Salon were two—“Innocence” and “The Pearl”. His themes, it will be seen, range over a wide field; and it is not too much to say that whether he draws them from Scripture, from classical mythology, or from modern life, his treatment of them is equally felicitous. In all alike his colouring is harmonious, his modelling delicate and highly-finished, and his draughtsmanship above criticism” (“M. Bouguereau,” Cassell’s Universal Portrait Gallery, London, 1895, p. 126). Certainly, Bouguereau’s unparalleled technical strength can be seen in the present model’s gentle expression and interesting pose.