In the painting Orestes Pursued by the Furies, William Bouguereau has created a scene inspired by ancient Greek mythology and tragedy. The image is based on a particularly dramatic portion of the legend of Orestes. According to some versions of the story, Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra as an act of revenge (Clytemnestra had earlier murdered her husband Agamemnon). In turn, Orestes himself was punished by the avenging spirits known in myth as the Furies for taking the life of his own mother. Some sources even claim that the young man was driven mad by these Greek goddesses of vengeance.
Bouguereau wrote of the painting: "I have this day placed in the hands of your agent my picture of Orestes pursued by the Furies. Gratified to have the picture go to New York, where I have found so many proofs of sympathy, I do not part with it without some regret; it is a philosophical conception, which I have treated with the utmost care, that of the criminal tormented by remorse; it being dear to me as one of my best and gravest works, on which I rely for admission to the Imperial Academy, at the doors of which I am now knocking."
More information about the role that the Furies played in Greek myth can be found at Mythography.
In her book about Nineteenth century painter Adolphe-William Bouguereau, Fronia E. Wissman introduces readers to one of France's legendary masters. Using a combination of lively, engaging text, insightful commentary about the artist's works, and splendid color images, the author reveals how Bouguereau's glorious paintings contributed to the history of art.
The Art Book
This book is sure to enhance any art lover's library. Color images grace the pages, and every picture is accompanied by a concise description of each featured work and artist.