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Rosa Bonheur, animalière


Yesterday, I mentioned Rosa Bonheur’s paint box. Perhaps I should say a word about Rosa Bonheur.

She’s been a favorite of mine since I found a little book of her work in a junk shop. She was a 19th C (1822-1899) French painter of animals, or animalière (I love that word and now I own it, FYI). Her father and all three of her brothers painted, but Rosa was a genuine superstar in her day.

She carried a license to wear men’s clothing, issued by the Paris police. Because she hung out in abbatoirs and stockyards (also, she was a committed old dyke). I don’t know what happened to women in Paris who were caught with trousers and no trouser license.

She left an enormous body of very competent work, but she’s been all but forgotten since her death. The main reason: her work was very popular in England, and the French press took to describing her and her work in English. As an insult. Yes, that shit is still going on.

Go check her out. And have a lovely weekend, everyone!


Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: January 19, 2018, 9:24 pm

She was an old dike? and a woman? and English?!

They had plural beings back in the 1800s?!
I suppose she didn’t also think she was a (pick a color) dragonkin though since World of Warcraft hadn’t been invented yet.

Hm,and here I thought dikes were mainly found in Holland.
Always something else about Europe I’m discovering.
Damn, I learn new stuff all the time around here!

Fine artist too (no shortage of her work, or pictures of her, on Google).
Here’s a self portrait, nae trews though

She even did a portrait of old Buffalo Bill (when he wasn’t old).

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: January 19, 2018, 10:05 pm

Wow! Rosa was a prolific painter. I found an original painting on eBay for $1450, and lots of prints, some of them signed. They are very beautiful. I suspect she like animals better than people. I wonder if she ever painted one of those Scottish wild cats.

Animalière. I like it. As in “Mme. Weasel, the famous animalière, noted for her exquisite chickens … .”

Ah nee mal yar—if you are from Texas 😉 .

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 20, 2018, 10:06 am

There’s a painting she did of some kind of European wild cat. Here. Toward the end of her life, she took in lions on the grounds of her estate, but I don’t think her lion paintings are that great…she got the faces wrong, somehow.

No kidding, this is my favorite Rosa Bonheur painting, and I can’t find a larger version of it.

Oh! For Christmas, Uncle B got me a cushion imprinted with her most famous painting. (Or maybe the horse fair is her most famous).

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: January 20, 2018, 1:08 pm

Wow, that horse fair painting is excellent. She captures the motion and barely controlled chaos so well that you can almost hear the horses. I like!

I have been to the Musee d’Orsay, where the oxen painting is located, but I was so focused on Manet’s Olympia that only Degas’ Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer (I think that’s the name of it – the little statue wearing a skirt) still sticks in my memory as well.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: January 20, 2018, 5:29 pm

I understand why Ploughing in the Nivernais is so popular, though I didn’t see it at first. It’s perfect; I swear I thought it was an old photograph. I’d love to see the original. And so big; it must have taken her a long time to paint it.

Regarding your favorite Study of a Cow, Stoaty—please tell us what you see that we (I) don’t see. Is it her bony backside, or is it the technique?

I liked the wild cat very much. I might have to buy a print.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: January 20, 2018, 6:18 pm

Why settle for being a mere animalière?

Be the first chickenière! No, that probably should be something like pouletière… anyway you probably wouldn’t be terribly insulted if the Frogs wrote about you in English.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: January 20, 2018, 9:48 pm

In France, this blog would be “La Belette”. Or maybe “La Fouine”. Feminine for some reason known only to the French.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: January 21, 2018, 3:48 pm

For the same reason “wife” in french is sometimes masculine?

“My wife, he is a good cook” was always good for a laugh after the old ones had consumed half a gallon of whiskey and started literally translating.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 21, 2018, 10:46 pm

Deborah, I think it’s because the contours of the cow are almost entirely indicated by the ins and outs of her splotchy hide, if that makes sense.

I’m trying to paint a chicken at the moment, where the shape of the chicken is mostly rendered by the shifting size and shape of her speckledy feathers.

It’s not turning out so good, but I love the idea.

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