Rosa Bonheur: why Google honors her today
Rosa Bonheur is recognized for her work as an artist and an animal painter.
French painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur, born in 1822 and died in 1899, is famous for her distinctive work featuring animals.
On Wednesday, the 200th anniversary of his birthday, Google changed its logo in five countries to honor Bonheur.
This is his story:
daughter of two artists
Born on March 16, 1822, in Bordeaux, France, Bonheur was the eldest of four siblings. His father, Raymond Bonheur, was a drawing teacher, and his mother, Sophie Marquis, was a musician.
Bonheur’s love for the arts was developed at an early age.
“I was not yet four years old when I conceived a real passion for drawing, and I made white walls as high as I could reach with my shapeless daub,” the artist is quoted as saying went.
She also developed a love for animals and always gave the credit to her mother.
Early Studies and Paris
In 1829, Bonheur’s family decided to move to the capital of France, where she continued her studies with her father.
During his time in Paris, his father developed a preference for the Saint-Simonian philosophy, which promoted gender equality, among other values.
Those beliefs were transmitted to his daughter, who was placed in the same school as her brothers.
While growing up with young boys, she acquired skills that she retained for the rest of her life. “I was the ringleader in all sports and didn’t hesitate to use my fists whenever necessary,” she said.
Bonheur was 10 years old when his mother died of cholera, and the family faced financial problems in the years that followed.
During this time, Bonheur’s father noticed her painting skills, and one day after seeing one of her early paintings—a canvas representing a bunch of cherries—he encouraged her to follow that path.
Bonheur continued to practice and at the age of 14, he began copying paintings at the Louvre Museum.
She then developed a tendency to paint animals as he improved his skills in sculpture. She convinced his father to allow a sheep to live in the apartment, and later a goat, a dog, birds, and other animals.
love for animals and exhibitions
In 1840, Bonheur exhibited his work for the first time at the Paris Salon. His work To Rabbit Nibbling on Carrots and Goats and Sheep did not attract much attention, but that changed in later years.
By 1843, he had enough money to travel to France and concentrate on sheep, cows, and oxen.
His reputation as an animal painter and sculptor continued to grow during that period, and after his father’s death in 1849, he went ahead and established his own studio with his longtime friend and partner, Nathalie Mikes.
The highlight of Bonheur’s career came in 1851 with the painting Le Marche aux Chevaux (The Horse’s Fair), which was presented at the 1853 Paris Salon.
In the book Rosa Bonheur: With a Checklist of Works in American Collections, author Rosalia Shriver wrote: “[Bonhauer] was only 31 years old. Yet no other woman had ever achieved a work of such strength and talent, and no other animal painter had produced a work of such size.”
Her work quickly gained more popularity, and in 1855 Queen Victoria invited him to visit England.
French Empress Eugenie awarded Bonheur the Legion of Honor in 1865 when she was 43 years old. She was the first woman to receive this accolade.
In 1870, Bonheur began to study and sketch lions and other animals, while he later devoted himself to pastel work with great success.
In 1898, Bonaher began living with a young American female artist named Anna Klumpe, who agreed to paint several of Bonaher’s portraits as well as write her biography.
A year later, Bonheur died of pulmonary influenza at the age of 77. Klumpe finished three of his paintings before he died.