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Friday, July 6, 2012
An Encounter with the Newly Restored "Nymphs and Satyr"
It was Bouguereau's "Nymphs and Satyr" in the process of being hung. Even from across the room the range of values and the glow of the painting were amazing. Charles had never encountered this painting before and it blew away all the reproductions he had ever seen. He just had to get in there and see it, but this was his last day in the city. Horribly frustrating! Sympathetic museum staff let him know that that gallery would reopen on Friday and he called me that night so excited with his find he was practically breathless. "I'm sorry Honey, but I'm gonna have to stay a few more days. I've got a date with a Nymph."
William Bouguereau painted "Nymphs and Satyr" in 1873. From 1882 to 1902 it hung in the bar of the Hoffman House hotel in New York City. When the bar came under new ownership in 1902, it was consigned to a warehouse where it languished for 40 years. In 1942 it was purchased by Robert Sterling Clark, who remembered the painting from his bar-hopping youth, and who then hired a less-than-stellar art restorer to spruce it up. Well, that guy botched the job, and created more problems than he fixed.
An article about the restoration was published in the WACC's spring newsletter: "A Bouguereau Reborn."
A high-rez photograph of the restored painting is available on the Met's website.
The painting's permanent home is the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown MA.
A detailed history of the painting can be found online here.