In the 19th centutries there were American travelling to France just to buy Bouguereau's paintings. In fact Bouguereau became a sensation among Americans and most of his work is in the USA: portraits and classic, "academic" paintings with lots of enphasis on gesture, mood and sentiment, superbly rendered flesh and carefully studied compositions.
It's a sad destiny that his work went unoticed and even intentionally disregarded after his death because of the new Avant-Garde of the early 1900s (Picasso and friends) and the mainstream Art which followed thereafter (Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, up to the Pop-Art, where the open intention had been always to shock the Bourgeosie), avant-garde itself looked-down at its beginning...
Dali, only in the 60s, started to consider him highly again. From the 80s, there is a newly grown interest and respect for this painter.
William Adolphe Bouguereau was the son of a French Catholic family of British origin. He became the most famous painter in Paris and as famous as the French president. As member and professor of the French Academy of Art, he was one of the judges of the "Salon" who didn't appreciate Monet and Degat and so contributed to the history of the Impressionism movement. But he simply did not see those paintings as art for obvious reasons if you "see" how he was painting.
Bouguereau liked to paint women, beauty, youth and mythology themes.
Zénobie retrouvée par les bergers sur les bords de l'Araxe, 1850. First prix de Rome
The above painting inspired a digital artist (see below)...
The Bohemian, 1890, with other detail (see also below) that the Impressionist techniques were well known to artists but not used in the full painting. Read this interesting article.
The Bohemian, 1895, "Impressionistic" detail. Confront it with this other painting.
This painting has a clearly visible sign that Bouguereau used the camera-obscura trick to copy the human figure who was laying on a table (move the mouse over the picture) . But we are in 1895 and he was 70 years old, We don't know how much he used this expedient. An akward mistake, and I wonder if he noticed it or not...Quite embarassing.
Read more on the use of these tricks in art here