Brian Kuether

La jeune bergère (The Young Shepherdess), after the painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau, 2021
Oil on canvas
62 x 28 in
SKU: 12800c
Price on Request
The Young Shepherdess depicts a barefoot young woman in peasant clothing tending to her flock of sheep, turned away from but still facing the viewer. It calls to mind a simpler life. This pastoral painting was done with subdued colors that convey a gentle peacefulness, and harkens back to an ideal view of a farmhand as she tends to her livestock. It is a quaint scene made beautiful with a subtle attention to detail and expression that helps bring the picture to life. She stands only with her sheep as they feed on a sea of grass near gentle rolling hills under an open sky. Only the rare sound of a sheep bleating in the background breaks the peaceful silence. The details in the painting, such as the wisps of hair blowing in the wind, the folds in the peasant clothing that she wears, and even the creases in her neck as she turns towards the viewer, are a defining trait of Bouguereau’s works.

William Adolphe-Bouguereau’s preference for traditional style paintings is showcased with The Young Shepherdess and the Young Shepherdess Standing. This and other similar paintings were done within the pastoral mode or theme which was developed by ancient Greek and Hellenistic artists and poets. French painters who preceded him in this include Claude Lorrain, Poussin, and Watteau. This theme attracted collectors in Europe and America because of their nostalgic content. In such works the artist depicted a variety of poses and expressions.

Bouguereau enjoyed painting rural settings such as the ones shown in these paintings. Much of his focus is on the subject and maintaining proper anatomy, lending a more realistic painting. This high degree of finish leads to a more life-like subject, capturing how the shepherdess’s lived during this fragment in time.