ROSA BONHEUR French, 1822-1899 Pyrenees Farmers, Market Bound, 1884Rosa Bonheur was born in France in the Bordeaux region of Gironde in 1822, the oldest child of a family of artists. Her father was known both as a landscape and as a portrait painter, while her mother, who died when Rosa was only eleven, was a piano instructor. One of Rosa's brothers was the animal sculptor Isadore Jules Bonheur. Rosa was reputedly disruptive in school so her mother taught her to read and write at home by having her draw an animal for each letter of the alphabet. In 1828 the family moved to Paris. Her father Raimond eventually agreed to teach her painting himself, since Rosa had been expelled from a number of schools for behavioral issues. Rosa began her art training first by copying images from drawing books and then from plaster models. Eventually she graduated to creating studies from live animals such as horses, sheep, cows, goats, rabbits and any other animals she could find in the pastures surrounding the environs of Paris and from the still wild forests of the Bois de Boulogne. When she was fourteen, she began to copy paintings from the masters at the Louvre, especially the paintings of Nicholas Poussin and Peter Paul Rubens. To further her understanding of animals she studied anatomy and osteology (the study of bones) at the National Veterinary Institute in Paris and even visited the slaughter houses of Paris to view the bone structure of the animals being processed. Rosa favored trousers and a waistcoat as her particular kind of dress and even received permission from the Prefect of Police to dress in men's attire. During her lifetime Rosa was represented by several private art galleries. Ernest Gambart purchased the reproduction rights to her works and later sold engraved copies of her paintings. Rosa Bonheur died in 1899 at the age of 77 at Thomery in France. Many of her paintings which had never been shown before to the public were sold at auction in Paris in 1900, the year following her death.
Pyrenees Farmers Market Bound, Oil on canvas, 25 x 39 3/4 inches
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