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Paul Cezanne, who submitted canvases to that venue every year only to have them rejected, finally gave up and declared, "I don't stand a chance in Monsieur Bouguereau's Salon".

Rival salons sprang up in Paris to combat Bouguereau's conservatism, but he remained powerful and influential until his death at 79.

Along with wealth and fame came many honors, including election to the Institute of France and being named a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Reactionary in visual tastes, Bouguereau believed art should idealize beauty and turned up his nose at anything that even remotely deviated from this dictum.

The painter's own life has become a legend that has inspired many romanticized interpretations. The transposition of this creature of the night to the bright light of day—her pallid complexion and artificial hair color clash with the naturalistic setting—signals Lautrec's fascination with sordid and dissolute subjects. Later in his career, he would devote an entire series of prints, called Elles, to life inside a brothel (1984.1203.166). He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and won the Prix de Rome in 1850. In 1868 he built a lavish studio in Montparnasse and helped make that area the foremost artists' quarter in Paris. In 1872, he was enrolled in the prestigious Lycee Fontanes in Paris, but he left the school only three short years later, in 1875, due to health reasons. Together with his mother, he moved back to the south of France, and its gentler climate. "The Abduction of Psyche" (1895) is probably his best-known work. Today many critics dismiss his style as kitsch and do not look kindly on his harmful opposition to new creative trends; but his exquisite craftsmanship is undeniable. As President of the Society of French Artists from 1881, he oversaw the selection of the thousands of paintings shown annually at the Paris Salon, the only real avenue to success for aspiring Gallic painters and sculptors. For decades he used this position to hinder the press and public from discovering the revolutionary changes that were taking place in French painting, including Impressionism, Realism, Pointillism, and the singular efforts of Paul Gaugin, Henri Rousseau, and Toulouse-Lautrec.


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