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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: Wounded Art


The Proposal

William Bouguereau (French, La Rochelle 1825–1905 La Rochelle)

Oil on canvas
64 3/8 x 44 in. (163.5 x 111.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Elliot L. Kamen, in memory of her father, Bernard R. Armour, 1960
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    In the first catalogue of Bouguereau's work, published in 1885, this work is entitled Seduction. It has also been known as "The Persuasion of Marguerite" and "Faust and Marguerite," a subject that was frequently depicted in the nineteenth century. However, any connection between the painting and Goethe's dramatic poem is purely speculative and must have resulted from the vaguely sixteenth-century German appearance of the setting and costumes.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (right, on pedestal): W-BOVGVEREAV / 1872

  • Provenance

    [Goupil & Cie, Paris, 1872–74; stock no. 7349; purchased from the artist, as "La Séduction," on November 29, 1872, for Fr 10,000; sold on April 21, 1874, half on account, to Knoedler]; [M. Knoedler, New York, from 1874]; Mrs. D. D. Colton, San Francisco (in 1892); Bernard R. Armour, Englewood, N. J. (until d. 1949); his wife, Mrs. Bernard R. (Martha S.) Armour, later Mrs. Jerome Gordon, Englewood, N. J. (from 1949); her daughter, Mrs. Elliot L. (Ruth Armour) Kamen, Englewood, N. J. (until 1960; her gift to MMA)

  • References

    Ch[arles]. Vendryes. Catalogue illustré des oeuvres de W. Bouguereau. Paris, 1885, p. 47, ill. (engraving), as "Séduction".

    Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York, 1892, vol. 1, p. 189, as "Persuasion of Marguérite," in the collection of Mrs. D. D. Colton, San Francisco.

    Marius Vachon. W. Bouguereau. Paris, 1900, p. 151, as "Séduction".

    Georges Wildenstein in "What Should a Museum Be? Editorial Symposium." Art In America 2 (1961), ill. p. 26, as "Faust and Marguerite".

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 174–75, ill., call it "The Proposal"; note that it was called "Séduction" during Bouguereau's lifetime, but entered the MMA collection as "Faust and Marguerite" and may also have been known as "Persuasion of Marguerite" [see Ref. Champlin and Perkins 1892]; suggest that the spinning wheel "provided an excuse for linking the young lady with Marguerite," a character in "Goethe's drama or Gounod's popular opera".

    John Rewald. "Should Hoving Be De-accessioned?" Art in America 61 (January–February 1973), p. 28.

    "Talk of the Town: Bouguereau." New Yorker (November 25, 1974), p. 43.

    Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross. "Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work." William Bouguereau. 2, New York, 2010, pp. 146–47, 365, no. 1872/18, ill. (color, reversed), call it "Séduction (Seduction)"; note that the artist listed it as "Deux amoureux" in his accounts; mention a finished sketch (private collection, France) closely resembling this picture.

    Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross. "His Life and Works." William Bouguereau. 1, New York, 2010, colorpl. 115 (reversed).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History