Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau (1837-1922)

Portrait of Elizabeth Gardner by her husband William Bouguereau, from the collection of Joey and Toby Tanenbaum, Toronto, Canada. Courtesy of Lasell College.

Elizabeth Jane Gardner graduated from Lasell Seminary in Auburndale in 1856. In 1864, desiring advanced art education, she went to Paris with her teacher Imogene Robinson (a founder of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., in 1879). In Paris, Elizabeth Gardner was one of the first women artists to be accepted at the Académie Julian, where she studied under (and later married) French Academician William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905). Two years later, in 1866, she became the first American woman to exhibit in the Paris Salon.

Though she spent her professional life in Europe, Bouguereau maintained a Newton connection with her alma mater, and in 1899 she gave her painting, Judgement of Paris, to the school. In a letter discussing the gift, she wrote: "I am the only American woman whose work ever received a medal at the Paris Salon. It cost me thirty years of study to arrive at this dignity." For many years, Lasell gave a reproduction of Judgement of Paris to each graduating student.