Lot 404
  • 404

WILLIAM BOUGUEREAU | L'Adoration des Mages

40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • After William Bouguereau
  • L'Adoration des Mages 
  • signed Wm Bouguereau (lower right)
  • pencil on paper 


Sale: Drouot Richelieu, Paris, March 22, 1990, lot 187, illustrated (as Étude pour Saint Vincent de Paul
Sale: Artcurial, Paris, March 26, 2014, lot 85, illustrated 
Acquired at the above sale 

Catalogue Note

This beautifully rendered and highly finished drawing is related to William Bouguereau’s monumental contribution to La chapelle de la Vierge in the Église de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Paris. While the first stone of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul was laid in 1824, it was twenty years until the church was consecrated and the first services were held, and the decorative scheme, including a 160 figure decorative frieze around the nave by Hippolyte Flandrin, began in earnest in the 1850s.

Bouguereau had already provided decoration for the Basilique Ste-Clotilde and Église Saint-Augustin de Paris when he was asked in 1881 to create eight large-scale paintings to fill La chapelle de la Vierge behind the choir. The cost of the commission was shared by the church and the City of Paris, which required Bouguereau to submit sketches to the Fine Arts Administrative Commission for approval. Given the high degree of finish and fidelity to the completed painting, it may be that the present work is one of the drawings submitted to the Administration. The careful attention to such details as the decoration of the fans that punctuate the background and the filigree work on the crowns of the Magi and the censer that they bear define this superb drawing.

Before their installation, the oil L’adoration des Mages was shown as a diptych with La Visitation at the Salon of 1885. The popularity of the pair of works was such that an engraving of the two, executed by Gautier, was issued by Boussod & Valadon in April 1887.