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Portrait of Rosa Bonheur by Edouard Louis Dubufe, 1857,
accompanied by a magnificent bull painted by Bonheur herself,
symbolic of her work as a painter of animals, or Animalière.
Notes from WIKIPEDIA

"Rosa Bonheur, born Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, (1822 – 1899) was a French animalière, realist artist, and sculptor. As a painter she became famous primarily for two chief works: Ploughing in the Nivernais (in French: Le labourage nivernais, le sombrage), which was first exhibited at the Salon of 1848, and is now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris depicts a team of oxen ploughing a field while attended by peasants set against a vast pastoral landscape; and, The Horse Fair (in French: Le marché aux chevaux) (which was exhibited at the Salon of 1853 (finished in 1855) and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City. Bonheur is widely considered to have been the most famous female painter of the nineteenth century."

Notes from
by Frances Borzello (1998)

"A woman painter's reputation, both social and professional, still depended on her respectability as much as her talent. Until the end of the [19th] century, there was no such creature as a bohemian woman artist. Even the extraordinary Frenchwoman Rosa Bonheur, the outsanding animal painter...made sure she was never interviewed in the masculine clothes which were her habitual form of dress. Hoping to exchange female visibility for male anonymity, she applied for a permit from the Paris police to dress as a man in public when she was doing the preparatory drawings for her masterpiece in 1851."
[See credit on Bonheur's participation in the Dubufe portrait above, pg. 114.]

The Horse Fair (1853-55)

by Rosa Bonheur

On The Horse Fair from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Like Millet, Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) favored rural imagery and developed an idealizing style derived from the art of the past. Similar in scale to Courbet's works of the same period, Bonheur's imposing Horse Fair (87.25), shown at the Salon of 1853, is the product of extensive preparatory drawings and the artist's scientific study of animal anatomy; her style also reflects the influence of such Romantic painters as Delacroix and Gericault and the classical equine sculpture from the Parthenon." (~ from 19th Century French Realism at the Met).

"Bonheur was born in Bordeaux, Gironde, the oldest child in a family of artists. Her father Oscar-Raymond Bonheur was a landscape and portrait painter and an early adherent of Saint-Simonianism, a Christian-socialist sect that promoted the education of women alongside men. The Saint-Simonians also prophesied the coming of a female messiah. Her mother Sophie (née Marquis) who died when Rosa Bonheur was only eleven, had been a piano teacher. Bonheur's younger siblings included the animal painters Auguste Bonheur and Juliette Bonheur and the animal sculptor Isidore Jules Bonheur. That the Bonheur family was renowned as a family of artists is attested to by the fact that Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin used the Bonheurs as an example of 'Hereditary Genius' in his 1869 essay of the same title.

"Bonheur was born in Bordeaux (where her father had been friends with Francisco Goya who was living there in exile) but moved to Paris in 1828 at the age of six with her mother and brothers, her father having gone ahead of them to establish a residence and income. By family accounts, she had been an unruly child and had a difficult time learning to read. To remedy this her mother taught her to read and write by having her select and draw an animal for each letter of the alphabet. To this practice in the company of her doting mother she attributed her love of drawing animals.

"Although she was sent to school like her brothers, she was a disruptive force in the classroom and was consequently expelled from numerous schools. Finally, after trying to apprentice her to a seamstress Raimond agreed to take her education as a painter upon himself. She was twelve at that point and would have been too young to attend the École des Beaux-Arts even if they had accepted women.

"As was traditional in the art schools of the period, Bonheur began her artistic training by copying images from drawing books and by sketching from plaster models. As her training progressed she began to make studies of domesticated animals from life, to include horses, sheep, cows, goats, rabbits and other animals in the pastures on the perimeter of Paris, the open fields of Villiers and the (then) still-wild Bois de Boulogne. At age fourteen she began to copy from paintings at the Louvre. Among her favorite painters were Nicholas Poussin and Peter Paul Rubens, but she also copied the paintings of Paulus Potter, Porbus, Louis Léopold Robert, Salvatore Rosa and Karel Dujardin."

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