Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

Original name Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, a painter and sculptor famed for the remarkable accuracy and detail of her portrayals of animals. Toward the end of her career these qualities were accentuated by a lighter palette and the use of a highly polished surface finish reminiscent of the famed 17th-century Dutch painter of animals, Paulus Potter.

She was first trained by her father, Raymond Bonheur, an art teacher, and later by Lon Cogniet in Paris. Bonheur was a regular Salon exhibitor from 1841 onward. "The Horse Fair," one of her Salon pieces exhibited in 1853, was acquired in 1887 by Cornelius Vanderbilt for a record sum and became one of her most widely reproduced works. Bonheur was unconventional for her time. She wore trousers, smoked cigarettes and for a time kept a lioness. She would paint only wild animals and in 1865 became the first woman to receive the Grand Cross of the Lgion d'Honneur.

SOURCE: Cain, Henri "ARTIST PROFILE Rosa Bonheur" (quoted in Reminiscences of Rosa Bonheur, Theodore Stanton, ed.).

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