Virgin of the Angels by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825–1905) came to the Getty Center from the nonprofit Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale in late 2005 as part of the Conservation Partnership program.
This life-size painting, a serene vision of angels serenading the sleeping Jesus in the arms of a graceful young Mary, is one of the most important works by Bouguereau in the United States.
Bouguereau's flawless technique, graceful compositions, and poignant portraits made him one of the most popular French artists of the late 1800s. Crowds thronged the annual Salon to see his latest canvases, and the wealthy vied to add them to their collections. And Bouguereau remains immensely popular with museumgoers to this day.
Chief paintings conservator Mark Leonard spent months studying, cleaning, and restoring Virgin of the Angels. He removed the old varnish that was dirtying the angels' wings and yellowing Mary's blue cloak, revealing the clarity of the original colors (see images below).