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The Elder Sister (French: La soeur aînée) is a painting by nineteenth-century French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1869.[1] The painting was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1992 as an anonymous gift.[2] According to the museum web site, this was a gift of an anonymous lady in memory of her father.[3][4] Since then, The Elder Sister has been a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (in the "Arts of Europe" section). It has become one of the most notable highlights in museum's collection of paintings.[3][5]

The Elder Sister
French: La soeur aînée
William Bouguereau - The Elder Sister - Google Art Project.jpg
The Elder Sister (1869)
ArtistWilliam-Adolphe Bouguereau
Year1869 (1869)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions130.2 cm × 97.2 cm (51.3 in × 38.3 in)
LocationMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston

The painting shows a girl ("the elder sister") sitting on a rock and holding a sleeping baby ("the younger brother") on her lap, with a quiet rural landscape behind them. For this scene, Bouguereau's daughter Henriette and son Paul served as models.[3] The beauty of the girl and her eyes, which are looking directly at the viewer, as well the balance of the composition, including positioning of the legs and arms of the children, demonstrate Bouguereau's academic painting style.[3][6]

The dimensions of the painting are 51¼ × 38¼ in (130.2 × 97.2 cm)[3] and the frame is 67½ × 55 × 5½ in (171.5 × 139.7 × 14 cm).[7]

There is also another painting by Bouguereau called The Elder Sister (completed in 1864), currently belonging to the permanent collection in the Brooklyn Museum.[8]


  1. ^ Wissman, Fronia E. (1996). Bouguereau. San Francisco: Pomegranate Artbooks. ISBN 978-0876545829.
  2. ^ Patricia C. Johnson (July 8, 1992). "MFA acquires four noted works/New pieces include paintings by Manet and Bouguereau". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e "William Bouguereau – The Elder Sister". The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  4. ^ "Teaching with Art – The Elder Sister". The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "100 Highlights of the MFAH". The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  6. ^ "William Adolphe Bouguereau – French painter, teacher, frescoist & draftsman". Art Renewal Center. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  7. ^ "Bouguereau, William Adolphe, 1825–1905. The Elder Sister". FRESCO – The Frick Art Reference Library. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "Brooklyn Museum – The Elder Sister, reduction (La soeur aînée, réduction) (ca. 1864)". Internet Archive Retrieved April 30, 2012.

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