Rosa Bonheur

Queers we should learn in art school// Rosa Bonheur, 1822-1899.

Rosa Bonheur was one of the best known women artists of the nineteenth century, hailed for her animal paintings and sculptures-- she regularly exhibited them at the Paris Salon, and even won awards for her work there, a rarity during this period when women were regularly not even allowed into art schools. Bonheur’s career was firmly established and her reputation cemented when she exhibited a painting at the 1849 Salon, Plowing in Nivernais (Musée Nationale du Château de Fontainebleau). She had been commissioned to create the huge, sprawling work by the government of the Second Republic. She received international acclaim in 1853 with her monumental work, The Horse Fair, which was admired by Queen Victoria and exhibited in England. She received the Legion of Honor from the French Empress Eugénie in 1865. She was independently wealthy and famous.
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Bonheur received special permission from the french government in 1852 to wear men's clothes in her daily working life, ostensibly to study her bovine or otherwise animal subjects in slaughterhouses and livestock markets. But to attribute her dress to just her work is simplistic and ignoring her own words-- she referred to herself as a member of "the third sex" and had well-documented "marriages" with women throughout her life, including fellow artist Alice Klumpke, who revered Bonheur (34 years her elder), and painted her portrait.

Further sources:

"National Museum of Women in the Arts." Rosa Bonheur | National Museum of Women in the Arts. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/rosa-bonheur.

"Rosa Bonheur Overview and Analysis." The Art Story. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://www.theartstory.org/artist-bonheur-rosa.htm.

Whitney Chadwick. "The Fine Art of Gentling: Horses, Women and Rosa Bonheur in Victorian England." The Body Imaged: The Human Form and Visual Culture Since the Renaissance. Ed. Kathleen Adler and Marcia Pointon. Cambridge, 1993.

Anna Klumpke, “Portrait of Rosa Bonheur” (1898)

Anna Klumpke, “Portrait of Rosa Bonheur” (1898)