In this scene from an ancient Greek tragedy, Orestes avenges his father by murdering his own mother. Even before her body hits the ground, the mythological spirits of vengeance known as the Furies have overwhelmed the guilty son. By pitting Orestes’ nude body against the hideous trio swarming around him, William Bouguereau set the bar for late 19th-century academic painters. His use of classical figures to animate strikingly dramatic scenes won him both commercial success and critical recognition as the grand master of the French art establishment.



  • Title: Orestes Pursued by the Furies
  • Creator: Adolphe William Bouguereau
  • Creator Lifespan: 1825/1905
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: La Rochelle, France
  • Creator Birth Place: La Rochelle, France
  • Date: 1862/1862
  • Location Created: France
  • Provenance: The artist, 1862-1870; sold by the artist, Nov. 4, 1870, to George Lucas for Samuel Avery; Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Philadelphia; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Giovanni Castano, Boston; Sold to Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., May 28, 1953; Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, 1971.
  • Physical Dimensions: 91 x 109 5/8 in. (231.1 x 278.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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