Self-Esteem with William-Adolphe Bouguereau
In a generation that is governed by the media, a bias network of amplified opinions fabricated as facts, pictures smeared with filters and Photoshop edits to transform it, finding art that has the power to whisper resonate has become ever more difficult. Yet, what is astonishing about this art is that it overpowers the facade of society’s noises. Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, a beautiful, quiet coming-of-age movie that truly is art in its purest form recently was awarded three oscars, including one for Best Picture; proof that no matter what day and age, art will always be the one that will continue to resonate. This painting Biblis by William Adolphe Bouguereau exemplifies this idea, portraying art in its most purity and simplicity.
One indication that Bouguereau’s painting is about innocence and purity is through the use of soft pastels. The tones of the painting mostly comprise of pine greens, soft tans and creamy whites to create a tranquil and simple experience. The water is not blue but a murky light brown, serving as a perfect complement to reflect the woman’s naked body. The woman is leaning her head onto a rock observing her reflection in the water. The painting portrays a strong sense of vulnerability in such a quiet and tranquil scene, a symbol of the beauty females have in themselves but struggle to believe and come to terms with because of society saying anything otherwise.
The woman staring at her reflection depicts her learning to love herself and her body in its entirety, but struggling to do so. She sees a completely different version of herself in the pond than what we see when we see this picture. When we look at this woman, we see a female resilient in her vulnerability, but this female struggles to see the beauty she radiates. This picture humanizes vulnerability and resilience, shifting away from the promiscuity of the concept of a naked woman. In a world where beauty feels the need to be edited, this painting beautifully contradicts the notion, showing us the importance of self-appreciation.