“Aurora,” or Dawn, was one of Bouguereau’s most acclaimed works. It is the first in a series of canvases representing the four Times of Day: the others were Dusk in 1882; Night in 1883; and Day in 1884. Allegorical representations of the four Times of Day date back at least to the Renaissance period. Bouguereau’s Times of Day are a study in complements and contrasts; when viewed together they reveal harmonies of line, form, and color. They exemplify his standards of ideal beauty and feminine grace in the 1880s.
An academic artist, Bouguereau emphasized training in form and technique to his many students. Bouguereau himself achieved a level of technical skill that was virtually unparalleled by his colleagues, and certainly admired, even as his art fell from favor when more innovative styles such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism developed. Recently, however, public appreciation and renewed critical attention have contributed to a resurgence of interest in his work.