So How Do You Pronounce Bouguereau?

Orestes pursued by FuriesMuch has been written about Adolph William Bouguereau both in his lifetime as one of the premier Academic artists of his period, that being the mid to late 19th century and due to something of a revival in the appreciation for fine figurative realist painting, right here and now in the first decade of the 21st century.

Let me clear up something right away, something that has been an annoyance to me for some considerable years and because of my ignorance of the French language and dialect I have been just as guilty of this sin as have others. I refer of course to the pronunciation of the name “ Bouguereau”. I have heard all manner of attempts and variations and I have struggled myself with his name, changing several times over the years to pronounce the name correctly. I once heard the English Architect and Art Critique Sir Roy Strong, a man who I have the greatest admiration for, pronounce the French artists name with a V (Boo-Ver-O) working on the principal that “he’s far more intelligent and cultured than me” I went around parroting the same, not knowing any better. I have actually heard people when talking about the artist’s work studiously avoiding the artists name, obviously as unsure about it as I was myself. I would give them my version of the pronunciation and I am sure many are still using my bad example today, completely and blissfully unaware of my pronunciation ignorance. I have heard it pronounced:”Boo-jer-oh” “Booj-row” “Bu-jer-o” “Boo-garo” “Boo-ger-ew”  “Bo-ger-o””Bo-ger-ew” and  all of these are wrong, we all failed miserably to honor the greatest artist of the 19th century by getting his name right.

Having said that we also get the pronunciation of the worst artist of the 19th century wrong also, go on, say Van-Gogh, now put a Dutch phlegmy “Hock” in it, see what I mean?   By the way ,before the pro Van mails start rolling in, Van himself said in a letter to his brother Theo “ I wish I could paint like Mr. Bouguereau, alas I never will” doesn’t prove him to be the worst I know but it does show he thought Bouguereau was the best.

So let’s get back to Mr. Bouguereau, there is a fantastic website called Forvo and you can experience French spoken by French people, so here is how a Frenchman would say Bouguereau Bouguereau

Oh yes just in case you don’t want to leave this site, I can understand that, it’s a nice site isn’t it? Its Bug-a-row ,well kinda !