William Bouguereau is unquestionably one of history's greatest artistic geniuses. Yet in this century, he has undergone one of the most pervasive and systematic attempts at character assassination and artistic libel that has ever been perpetrated. He was painted as the arch-villain by modernist ideologues for nearly a century, who accused him of not recognizing the Impressionists.
His work was successfully suppressed and his name almost completely banished from the art history texts. Yet in his career he was the President of the French Academy, Head of the Institute, President of the Legion of Honor, winner of nearly countless awards and accolades, and the most famous living French artist from 1860 to 1900. He was a household name much the same as is Picasso today. He and the other top names of the French Academy were ignored as if they had never existed.