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William-Adolphe Bouguereau was, in his own time, considered one of the world’s greatest painters. His sophisticated, refined technique represented the height of achievement in the French academic art tradition, though it led to him being professionally and personally ridiculed by the avant-garde once Impressionism gained popular traction. His reputation has largely now been rehabilitated, after a renewed interest in figure painting beginning in the 1980s. A master at capturing the subtlest nuances of personality and mood, in ‘Spring Breeze’ we see him at the height of his powers, with his subject a young woman encountered after bathing. Her posture and expression speak less to self-consciousness than to budding sensuality, with the slight smile on her face and configuration of her hands as much to say “Oh it is you! My beloved!” as to express concern over chanced-upon indecency. Bouguereau’s willingness to paint nudes wearing expressions that indicated sexual desire earned him some suspicion in his morally conservative era, though they seem rather tame and chaste to modern viewers.