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Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau papers, 1853-1977

Biographical Note

Painter Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau (1837-1922) lived and worked in Paris, France. Bouguereau was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, graduated from the Lasell Female Seminary in Auburndale, Massachusetts, in 1856, and taught French at the Worcester School of Design and Fine Arts. In the summer of 1864, she travelled to Paris with a former art instructor, Imogene Robinson, with the intention of furthering her art studies. Upon arrival, they copied paintings at the Luxembourg Museum and Bouguereau studied in a number of studios, including the studio of Jean-Baptiste Tissier, a cooperative women's studio, and the École Jardin des Plantes. In 1868, she gained entry to the Paris Salon, one of only six women invited to participate before 1870.
Bouguereau painted in the academic French style, which depicted popular subjects such as country life, biblical scenes, and children and animals. In 1973, she gained entry to the acclaimed Académie Julian, where her instructors included Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Adolphe William Bouguereau, whom she would later marry in 1896. Bouguereau was the first American woman to be awarded a medal by the Salon, winning a bronze medal in 1887 for The Farmer's Daughter. She also won medals at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition and the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition. After her marriage to Adolphe Bouguereau, she ceased painting to care for her husband and resumed only after his death in 1905. She continued to produce works until 1914, when her failing eyesight forced her to stop, and died in her country home in St. Cloud, France in 1922.