The Seamstress of Brittany by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

A major European painting acquisition is now on display at the Lightner Museum. The Seamstress of Brittany by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905), one of the most successful late 19th-century French artists, has been added to the museum’s permanent collection as a charitable gift from Jacksonville art collector, David Gonzalez. “I think it’s a remarkable painting and I’m thrilled that it will be seen by visitors to the Lightner Museum from all over the world,” stated Gonzalez.

Trained at the École des Beaux-Arts, the prestigious Parisian art school, Bouguereau was one of most celebrated painters of late-nineteenth century France. Praised for his masterfully executed religious, mythological, and allegorical paintings, Bouguereau’s work is defined by a precise, immaculately finished paint surface, and a strict adherence to rules of anatomy, perspective, and academic modeling. His paintings exemplify the standards of French Academic painting in the late nineteenth century. Bouguereau enjoyed significant popularity in France and the United States. His grand canvases were highly sought after by collectors in Gilded Age America.

In The Seamstress of Brittany, Bouguereau depicts a stoic peasant woman. The seamstress is an idealized figure whose pose and noble bearing recall classical Greek sculpture. From the depiction of the facial features, to the anatomically correct hands and fingers, Bouguereau’s painting is characterized by a powerful understanding of the human form achieved through rigorous academic training.

The Seamstress of Brittany is a truly significant addition to our collection” said David Bagnall, Executive Director of the Lightner, “The Lightner Museum is extremely grateful to David Gonzalez for his ongoing support of the museum and its mission.”

In 2019, David Gonzalez donated  another important painting to the Lightner, The Return of Persephone by George Hitchcock. The Seamstress of Brittany will be displayed in the Museum’s Ballroom Gallery, alongside other works of art collected during America’s Gilded Age.

William Adolphe-Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
The Seamstress of Brittany, 1878
Oil on Canvas
David Gonzalez at the Lightner Museum
Photograph by Nick Gatta