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Indianapolis Museum of Art receives major painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
William-Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905), Dream of Spring (Rêve de printemps), 1901. Oil on canvas, 73 x 50 in. Gift of Melvin and Bren Simon, 2013.33
INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- A major European painting acquisition is now on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dream of Spring by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, one of the most successful late 19th-century French artists, has been added to the museum’s permanent collection as a charitable gift. The painting was promised to the IMA by philanthropists Melvin and Bren Simon in celebration of the Museum’s 125th anniversary in 2008. Bren Simon completed the gift this spring.

Bouguereau’s Dream of Spring depicts a young woman seated at a woodland fountain, attended by three cherubs bearing flowers and the arrow of love. The oil painting measures more than 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Bouguereau was the quintessential academic painter, specializing in exquisitely drawn, beautiful women and irresistible children. His idealized style and romantic subjects made Bouguereau a favorite among collectors in America and Europe.

“Although Dream of Spring was Mrs. Simon’s favorite painting in their collection,” remarked Dr. Charles L. Venable, the Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA, “she told me that she and her late husband felt it belonged in a museum and thus decided to give the work to the IMA. The Indianapolis Museum of Art is extremely grateful to the Simons for their generosity in making this magnificent work available to the public.”

“The IMA was founded in the late 19th century, when Bouguereau was at the height of his powers,” said Ellen W. Lee, The Wood-Pulliam Senior Curator at the IMA. Yet the museum has never been able to present a significant work by this highly important painter—until now. Dream of Spring, a prime example of the artist’s technical virtuosity, represents the traditional academic approach that existed alongside the progressive work of the Impressionists.”

Dream of Spring takes center stage in the Museum’s European galleries, located on Floor 2.






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