New Hampshire’s Most Celebrated Artist: Exeter’s Elizabeth Jane (Gardner) Bouguereau (1837-1922)

Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau

Elizabeth (Gardner) Bouguereau

Elizabeth (Gardner) Bouguereau was one of the most celebrated women painters in the world. She was born in Exeter New Hampshire in the old colonial home of the Gardners, near the square. She attended the public and private schools of the town, and attended Lasell Seminary (a member of the class of 1856). There she studied drawing and painting.

After her graduation from Lasell she was one of the principals of the newly founded Worcester Academy of the Fine Arts, along with Miss M.Immogene Robinson. The school was dedicated in August of 1858 and by 1859 it focused on fine arts, classical literature and languages (English, French and German).

Painting: Soap Bubbles, 1891, oil on canvas, by Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau

Painting: “Soap Bubbles,” 1891, oil on canvas, by Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau

When the Civil War ended, Elizabeth went to Paris to study art, which she did under Antoine-Louis Barye, Hugues Merle, and Jules Joseph Lefebre. She painted ideal figure pieces, but later her child faces brought her greater fame. She entered the government school of drawing and modelling, and when the Julian studios opened in Paris she was one of the first women pupils. A few years later an evening class opened under the direction of the famed William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Her first contribution to the Salon was “Cornelia and Her Jewels.” Her painting, “Imprudence,” won for her the gold medal of the Paris Salon in 1887, and she was the first American woman to win this great honor. Among her best known paintings are “Coyinne,” “The Sorceress,” “The Fortune Teller,” “Ruth and Naomi,” “Moses in the Bull Rushes,” “Maud Muller,” “Priscilla,” “Daphne and Chloe,” “The Captive,” “A Corner of the Farm,” “The Two Mothers,” “In the

Painting: Donated to Exeter NH, last known hanging in the Exeter Library

Painting “Across the Brook”: Donated to Exeter NH, last known hanging in the Exeter Library

Woods,” “The Letter to the Grandson,” “Soap Bubbles,” and “Across the Brook.” [see picture].

Madame Bouguereau gave “Across the Brook” to the town of Exeter [in 1902 through her nephew Perley Gardner], and it was placed in the Robinson Seminary. Her most famous work is said to be “David the Shepherd.” She gave one of her most beautiful paintings, “The Judgment of Paris,” to Lazell Seminary. [some of this information from Sept 1, 1912, Boston Herald (Boston MA), page 38].


Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau, by Olive Tardiff, at Seacoast NH

Art Renewal Center: Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau [additional likenesses of her]

Blog: “Civil War Women: Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau” [addition details about her life, and art]

anceSTORY archives: Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau | Wonderful clips on the romance of Gardner and M. Bouguereau


—–First Generation—–

Thomas Gardner, b. 4 Mar 1590/91, Sherbourne, Dorset, England, came with his family  to the Massachusetts Bay Coloney [reportedly on the ship “Safety” in Aug 1636], settling in Roxbury MA. He m. in England by 1614. He d. November 1638. His wife died c1658.  [list of passengers, ship Safety]
Children of Thomas Gardner:
1. Peter Gardner, b. 1617 England, d. 5 Nov 1698 in Roxbury MA; m. Rebecca Crook
2. + Thomas Gardner, b 1618 England, d. 1689

—–Second Generation—–

Thomas Gardner, b c1618 England, died 15 July 1689 Roxbury MA. He m. 4 July 1641 in Charlestown/Roxbury/Cambridge MA to Lucy Smith of Roxbury MA. She b. abt 1620, d. 4 November 1687. He was a member of the Roxbury church in 1650.
Children of Thomas & Lucy (Smith) Gardner:
1. Andrew Gardner, b. 5 March 1642 Roxbury MA, d. 1690 Canada; m. 20 May 1668 in Watertown MA to Sarah Mason.
2. +Deacon Thomas Gardner, b. 25 May 1645 Roxbury MA.
3. Abigail Gardner, bap. 15 Feb 1646 Roxbury MA; d. August 1649
4. Mary “Maria” Gardner, bap. 9 April 1648 in Roxbury MA; she m. Thomas Boylston, Jr. and they were ancestors of John Adams Jr., first VP and 2nd President of the US
5. Peter Gardner, b. 8 Dec 1650, died 24 Aug 1653 Roxbury MA
6. Abigaile Gardner, b. 6 Dec 1652 Roxbury MA; m. Rev. John Wise
7. Lucia “Lucy” Gardner, b. 11 Feb 1654 Roxbury MA; m1) John Turner; m2) George Monk
8. Joanna Gardiner, b. 25 January 1657 Roxbury MA; m. 12 Nov 1677 to Robert Stanton
9. Joshua Gardner, b. 8 May 1659 Roxbury MA; m. Mary Weld
10. Caleb Gardner, b. 13 April 1662 Roxbury MA; d. 13 Dec 1681 Roxbury MA

—–Third Generation—–

Dea. Thomas Gardner, b  25 May 1645 Roxbury MA, d. 1725; He m. 17 Nov 1673 Roxbury MA to Mary Bowles, dau of Elder John Bowles. They resided in Brookline MA. He was appointed constable for Muddy River in 1657 [later Brookline MA]. He is buried in the Gardner Tomb, Walnut Street Cemetery, Brookline MA.
Deacon Thomas Gardner House, build 1705, destroyed 1895 in Brookline MA
Children of Dea. Thomas & Mary (Bowles) Gardner:
1. Sarah Gardner, b. 15 March 1674 in Roxbury MA
2. Lieut. Thomas Gardner, b. 18 April 1676 Roxbury MA; he was one of the signers of the petition for the incorporation of the town as Brookline. His grandson, Isaac Gardner was commander of the Brookline militia who was killed in an attack on British troops the day of the Battle of Lexington 19 April 1775. He m. Mary Higginson.
3. Mary Gardner, b. 11 March 1678 Roxbury MA
4. John Gardner, b. 9 January 1679 Roxbury MA; he m. Elizabeth Weld.
5. Caleb Gardner, b. 23 April 1682 Roxbury MA; he m. Abiel Phipps; signed the petition for the incorporation of the town of Brookline MA
6. Peter Gardner, b. 22 July 1684 Roxbury MA; he m. Elizabeth Aspinwall
7. Isaac Gardner, b. 18 Aug 1686 Roxbury MA; he m. Susannah Heath
8. ?Joshua Gardner, b. —
9. +Benjamin Gardner, b. 1697 Brookline MA, d. 14 Sep 1762

—–Fourth Generation—–

Benjamin Gardner, b. 1697 in “Muddy River” Brookline MA, d. 14 Sept 1762 aged 64 yrs in Brookline MA. He m. 1 Dec 1725 to Mary Aspinwall, dau of Samuel & Sarah (Stevens) Aspinwall. She b. 3 Jan 1701 in Brookline MA and d. 29 January 1762 in Brookline MA. [For Aspinwall genealogy see The NEHGS Vol 47, 1893, page 345.] [SEE HIS BURIAL PLACE]
Children of Benjamin & Mary (Aspinwall) Gardner:
1. +Elisha Gardner, bapt 9 Sep 1726 Brookline, MA
2. Samuel Gardner b 1728, d. 22 Nov 1771, aged 43 yrs
3. Caleb Gardner b 1733
4. Mary Gardner, b 1738

—–Fifth Generation—–

Elisha Gardner, bapt. 9 Sep 1726, d. 29 January 1797. He m1) Elizabeth Sparhawk who d. 1761. He m2) 21 Nov 1765 [Rowley MA records] to Eunice Searl(e). He is buried in Walnut Street Cemetery, Brookline MA.
Child of Elisha & Elizabeth (Sparhawk) Gardner:
1. Oliver Gardner, b. 18 Aug 1755, d. 1768, aged 12 yrs.
2. Benjamin Gardner, b. 9 March 1758, d. 7 Oct 1785, aged 28. Buried Walnut Street Cemetery, Brookline MA.
Children of Elisha & Eunice (Searle) Gardner:
3. Elisha Gardner, b. 27 Dec 1766 Brookline MA; graduated from Harvard College in 1786; engaged in mercantile pursuits. Died in Savannah, GA.
4. + John Gardner, b. baptized 13 March 1770 in Brookline MA

—–Sixth Generation—–

John Gardner, bap 13 March 1770 Brookline MA d. 18 Jan 1848 in Exeter NH, aged 78 yrs; m. 3 Dec 1796 in Boston MA to Deborah Dean, dau of Ward Clarke & Elizabeth (Hill) Dean. She b. 1775 in Exeter NH, and d. 27 Jan 1860 in Hanover, Plymouth Co. MA. He was a merchant of Boston MA, and later of Exeter NH. He did poorly in business but worked hard to repay his debtors. He and his wife are buried in Exeter Cemetery, Exeter NH.
Children of John & Deborah (Dean) Gardner:
1. John Dean Gardner, b. 22 Dec 1799 Exeter NH, d. 25 Jan 1869 at Brooklyn NY. He m. 24 Nov 1824 at Portland ME to Susan Newell Dicks, daughter of Capt. John and Nancy (Stimpson) Dicks. She b. 21 Feb 1804 in Portland Maine, and d. 9 Nov 1885 at Wellesley MA. [from Genealogy of the Stimpson family of Charlestown MA and allied lines, p. 47,85]. Their son George Arthur Gardner was b. 22 Nov 1829 d 27 Sep 1879 and was a civil engineer. he m1) 25 Dec 1850 Mary C. Le Breton/Bretton of Newburyport. She d. leaving 2 children. He m2d) Susan E. Mount of Trenton NJ and he had 5 more children.
2. +George E. Gardner, b. 24 Aug 1801 in Exeter NH.
3. William H. Gardner, b. abt 1807 Exeter NH; d. 10 Oct 1873 in City Hospital, Boston, Suffolk Co. MA. Married.
4. Elizabeth Dean Gardner, b. abt 1809 Exeter NH, d. 21 July 1888 in Exeter NH, age 79. She m. 19 June 1833 in Exeter NH to Samuel Cutler.

—–Seventh Generation—–

George E. Gardner, son of John & Deborah (Dean) Gardner, b 24 Aug 1801 Exeter NH, d. 11 Aug 1857; m. 11 May 1830 in Portland Maine to Jane Lowell, daughter of Capt. Daniel & Celia (Thompson) Lowell. She was b. 25 Oct 1808 in Portland, Maine, and d. 17 Jan 1886 at Exeter NH. He was a hardware merchant. He represented Exeter in the state legislature.  [SEE The historic genealogy of the Lowells of America from 1639-1899 by Delmar Rial Lowell, page 448-449
Children of George & Jane (Lowell) Gardner:
1. George Lowell Gardner, b. 21 Feb 1831 in Exeter NH, d. 10 Aug 1845
2. Cordelia Alger Gardner, b. 23 Aug 1832 Exeter NH, d. 16 Jan 1896 at Cambridge MA; m. Isaiah W. Gillpatrick. They had (1) George Wood Gillpatrick b Exeter NH 5 Oct 1860, d. 10 Aug 1883; (2) Wallace Gillpatrick b 17 July 1862 Exeter NH
3. John Edward Gardner, b 13 Jan 1835 Exeter NH; d. 21 Aug 1899, age 64y 7m.; merchant. He fitted for college at Phillips Academy graduating i 1852, and then graduating from Harvard College in 1856. He was connected with a banking house in Chicago IL. After his father died he returned to Exeter NH, to take over his father’s business with surviving partner, John P. Kelley. The hardware house was established in 1770 by Ward Clarke Dean, whose daughter married John’s grandfather, John. The firm was later called John Gardner & Son when George E. Gardner joined with his father as junior partner. When he died Mr. Kelley was admitted to the firm and it became George Gardner & Co. He married 13 Jan 1875 in Boston MA to Miriam Stedman Nightingale, dau of James White & Mary Frances (Folsom) Nightingale. She b. 20 March 1851.Children: (1) Perley Gardiner, b. 2 Nov 1875 Exeter NH, res. Cambridge MA; (2) John Edward Gardiner b Exeter NH 11 Aug 1882; res. Exeter NH.(3) George Nightingale Gardner b 27 July 1888. [See Robert

Portrait of William-Adolphe Bouguereau from the book "W. Bouguereau," by Marius Vachon, 1899

Portrait of William-Adolphe Bouguereau from the book “W. Bouguereau,” by Marius Vachon, 1899

Vose and his descendants, by Ellen F. Vose, page 159].
4. +Elizabeth Jane Gardner, b. 4 October 1837 in Exeter NH; m. 22 June 1896 in Paris France to William Adolphe Bouguereau. She was an artist in Paris France.
5. Maria P. Gardner, b. 13 July 1842 Exeter NH; d. 3 Aug 1914 in Exeter NH. Residing 23 Linden Street. Single. She is buried in Exeter Cemetery.

—–Eighth Generation—–

Elizabeth Jane Gardner, daughter of George and Jane (Lowell) Gardner, b. Exeter NH 4 October 1837 in Exeter NH and d. 28 January 1922 in France. She married in 1896 to noted artist, frescoist and draftsman,William-Adolphe Bouguereau, waiting until William’s mother died (she had objections to the marriage). His first wife was a French woman who died early in their marriage, leaving him with two young children. He died on August 19, 1905 at his home in La Rochelle, France.



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