William Bouguereau (1825-1905) was a highly important and influential French academic painter, who taught a long succession of gifted students, primarily at the private Academie Julien in Paris. Bouguereau wanted to become a serious history painter and his efforts paid off in 1850 when he won the much coveted Prix de Rome (meaning that the French government paid him to stay in Rome and study art). After his studies in Italy, he established his reputation in Paris as a premier history painter, portraitist, and decorator of churches during the 1850s and 1860s. He was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1876 and remained an important and influential member for 30 years. His large output of Salon paintings was consistently praised by critics, often purchased by the French state, and frequently reproduced in the press. He won numerous awards throughout his career and can be seen as the epitome of the French Academy. Today, more than 100 museums and galleries across the world exhibit Bouguereau's work, including the Musee d'Orsay (Paris), the Denver Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) The Hermitage (St.
Petersburg), Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (UK), Chi-Mei Museum (Taiwan) and Tyne & Wear Museums (UK).