Featured Artist in Collection

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

Repos du Betail

Rosa Bonheur’s (1822-1899) first teacher was her father, followed later by Leon Cogniet. Early on she showed both a great talent for life drawing as well as a strong sense of independence. She ran away from both her school and a workshop where she was apprenticed declaring that she wanted to be an artist against the strong wishes of her father. She undertook her first studies in the Bois de Boulogne, which was still fairly wild in her youth. At this time, the French philosopher Felicite Robert de Lamennais and the author George Sand both played a huge role in influencing her to break the traditional cultural molds around women. She had her doctor write up a note to allow her to wear men’s clothes, and spent her time on farms, ranches, and at slaughterhouses. She also cut her hair short and smoked, both of which for a woman were heavily frowned upon at the time.

She first exhibited at the Salon of 1841 with two animal paintings. In subsequent years, she would also send in Sculptures she had made in the likeness of Sheep and bulls. In 1843 she won a third-class medal. She won a first-class medal in 1848 with Ploughing in the Nivernais. At the Salon of 1853, she exhibited Horse Market, which due to its popularity placed her as one of the foremost artists of her time. She was made a Chevalier of the Legion of the Legion d’Honneur in 1865 and an Officer in 1894 (This is incredible since woman were almost never admitted). She was also a Commander of the Order of Catholic Isabella and the Order of Leopold of Belgium. She was a great friend and protégée of Queen Victoria of England, making her art quite popular even among the British court.