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Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822-1899)


Also known as:  Bonheur, Marie Rosa; Bonheur, Marie Rosalie; Bonheur, Rosalie

Birth Place: Bordeaux (Gironde, Aquitaine, France)

Rosa Bonheur, born March 1822, was a french artist and sculptor. Born into a family of artists, Bonheur is most notably known for two specific works: "Ploughing in the Nivernais", and "The Horse Fair". She is often referred to as the most famous female painter of the nineteenth century.

Bonheur was expelled from school for dressing in a rather boyish way. He hair was unkempt, and she preferred slacks to skirts. Shortly after being expelled, she submitted her very first painting at the age of 19 to the Salon. Bonheur’s reputation steadily climbed throughout the 1840's. She continued to regularly exhibit her paintings of animals and sculptures at the Paris Salon from 1841 to 1853. In 1845, She won a third prize and won a gold medal for her works in 1848.

The following year she submitted her first sculpture. Her great success began when she was offered a French government commission. "Horse Fair," created in 1855, measured eight feet high by sixteen feet wide upon completion. It is on permenant display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.

Another well-known work by Bonheur is "Study of a Cow," which is on display at the Figge Art Museum. She studied animal anatomy by visiting the abattoirs of Paris and performing dissections of animals at the National Veterinary Institute in Paris.

Although primarily dismissed by the French art world, she was revered in most other parts of Europe. Rosa Bonheur passed away in 1899 at the age of 77.

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