Rosa Bonheur Artworks: Why did Rosa Bonheur Paint Animals?

Rosa Bonheur,” born Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, on March 16, 1822, died on May 25, 1899, in Paris. She was a realism painter and sculptor most known for her animal paintings (animalière).

Paintings by the artist include Ploughing in the Nivernais, which was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1848, and now hangs in Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, and The Horse Fair (in French: Le marché aux chevaux), which was exhibited in 1853 and is now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

As a female painter, Bonheur was widely regarded as one of the greatest of her time.

Rosa Bonheur Artworks

  • Ploughing in the Nivernais, 1849
  • The Horse Fair, 1852–55
  • Haymaking in the Auvergne, 1853-55
  • The Highland Shepherd, 1859
  • A Family of Deer, 1865
  • Changing meadows (Changement de pâturages), 1868
  • Spanish muleteers crossing the Pyrenees (Muletiers espagnols traversent les Pyrénées), 1875
  • Weaning the Calves, 1879
  • Relay Hunting, 1887
  • Portrait of William F. Cody, 1889
  • The Monarch of the herd, 1868

Why did Rosa Bonheur Paint Animals?

Rosa was commissioned by the French government to make a huge picture to memorialize the tradition of field plowing by animal power after her achievement at the 1848 Salon (given a gold medal).

Before the 1849 Salon, she sketched for Ploughing in the Nivernais, which was eventually shown.

The Empress Eugénie awarded her the French Legion of Honour in 1865 and advanced her to Officer of the order in 1894, despite the fact that she was more popular in England than in her home France.

For the first time, this honor went to a female artist.

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