Study in Oil for "Nymphs and Satyr" by William Adolphe Bouguereau


This exquisite study of the male form masterfully reflects the artist's ability to render human anatomy, as well as the fall of light as it highlights and extenuates the musculature and movement of the body. This study in paint, by French artist William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 – 1905), was made for his "Nymphs and Satyr" painting of 1873; it focuses on the dynamic movement and subtle nuances of the human figure, before the Satyr elements of the figure have been added. A satyr is a creature also from Greek mythology having the torso and face of a man, ears and tail of a horse, and feet of a goat. They are known for being lustful and fertile creatures. Bouguereau captures an incredible sense of motion in the final painting, as the Satyr struggles to keep his ground, and the Nymphs' joyous struggle to pull him in, which is evident in this early study. A staunch traditionalist and academic artist, Bouguereau made countless studies throughout his creative process before working up a painting. Using a variety of mediums, including detailed pencil studies and oil sketches, this careful method resulted in an accurate rendering of the human form. Bouguereau's works consistently depicted genre scenes and mythological themes, which were modern interpretations of Classical subjects, both pagan and Christian, with a concentration on the naked human figure. Bouguereau began his career at the in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, before studying in the studio of François-Édouard Picot, where he studied painting in the academic style. In 1851 he won the Grand Prix de Rome at the age of twenty-six. Bouguereau continued to win several accolades and awards throughout his career, and steadily gained the honours of the Academy, reaching Life Member in 1876, and Commander of the Legion of Honor and Grand Medal of Honor in 1885.


Oil on canvas  /  21 × 19  /  Date of Creation: c. 1873