After a round-about flight, Jacksonville to Baltimore, Baltimore to San Antonio, we finally arrived. After spending several days bouncing the new grand-daughter on my knee we have taken the weekend off. On Tuesday of next week I will be heading to the San Antonio Museum of Art to visit with an old friend, William-Adolphe Bouguereau's painting, L'admiration. One would never guess this relatively small Museum would house one of the Master's finest paintings, one doesn't even have to go to Paris to see it either, but there it is sequestered away in one of the minor galleries. I know that technically L'admiration is not an Academic nude but it is the product of many Academic studies and is as good as anywhere to start this quest.
I first made this pilgrimage September 2009 but couldn't interest any of my fellow family members in accompanying me on my quest, so as always, I hit out on my own in a strange city. After I had paid the admission fee, I asked the girl at the information desk where the painting resided but all I got for my trouble was a strange look and total puzzlement. She did not know her Bouguereau from a hole in the ground. There I stood in complete shock. How could this possibly be? This magic painting that loomed so large in my mind was not to be found even though I knew it was in that Museum somewhere. No one within shouting range knew where the painting was. She directed me to the Classical section on the third floor but that turned out to be Classical American paintings in the Museum's collection.
When I couldn't find it there, I wondered through the modern paintings and about lost my lunch (needless to say I hate Modern Art..... Thomas Hart Benton was right ...."nobody ever taught those sons-of-bitches how to draw!)", so all those giant paintings of spots were absolutely lost on me....don't get me wrong, I do know their fundamentals, tension, points and all that other garbage..... but they can't hold a candle to a nude human body. So back down stairs I went. Finally one of the Museum volunteers pointed me in the right direction when I described the painting to her as....."You know, the naked little boy with wings, surrounded by all the buxom broads"......"Oh that painting! Why didn't you say so?" So much with hobnobbing with intellectuals in a museum.
Needless to say when I finally walked into that Gallery that painting was not exactly front and center either. It was back against the far wall and was obscured from the main entrance by exhibits out on the floor. Oh, the humanity....how dare they?
Oh, but the reward of standing before the hand of a 19th Century Master eased all that pain. That definitely made up for all the aggravation up to that point. So, with no one in the room to bother me, I stood there for almost an hour taking in every detail of the Master's hand, trying to decode his technique and photographing the painting from every angle. I was indeed in heaven. So now I will get my second look at that painting and take the memories back home with me to keep for another six months until I return. Stay tuned for more adventures in the Academic Nude.