Pain of love. Douleur d'amour (1899)

Naked young female grieving

Douleur d'amour (Pain of love.1899)Douleur d'amour (Pain of love.1899)


William Bouguereau.


This painting by William Bouguereau is one of many featuring a female nude . Titled Douleur d'amour (Pain of love.1899) the subject is naked as is characteristic of most of Bouguereaus female studies. She is leaning on top of an ornately carved pillar standing alone in the middle or on the edge of a woodland. It features a rams head on each corner. The pillar is weathered and has ivy creeping up it suggesting that it has been there for a while and could possibly be a marker for a lost loved one or perhaps a favoured place that is convenient to her mood. She is leaning on a garland of roses not dissimilar to those portrayed in an earlier work entitled Une me au ciel. (1878) A soul in heaven. Her head is resting on her right arm while her left arm, which partially covers her exposed breasts is resting on the roses.

Her body posture and facial expression portray a mournful sadness and apparent loss of will. Cupid is sitting at the base of the pillar rubbing tears from his eyes suggesting even more so that a truly tragic event has occurred. Perhaps the woman has been betrayed by some one, or is visiting the grave of a lost love one and is just reminiscing as she is still mournful of her loss.

Could this perhaps be a portrayal of Flore the roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring? She is leaning hopelessly on the plinth. Her facial expression is one of sadness and quiet mournful desperation and she has a garland of roses significant of those portrayed inFlore et zephyr (1875) Zephyr was the messenger of spring and was said to have had abducted Chloris (The Greek equivalent to Flora) whom he gave the domain of flowers.

Perhaps this piece portrays Flora after her abduction by Zephyr.

The above account is my interpretation of the work and should in no way be taken as fact.