Rosa Bonheur / The Farm at the Entrance of the Wood / 2nd half of the 1800sRosa Bonheur
The Farm at the Entrance of the Wood
2nd half of the 1800s

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Creator Name: Bonheur, Marie Rosa
Creator Nationality: European; French
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: 1822 - 1899

The eldest of four children, Rosa Bonheur received drawing lessons in the studio of her father, Raymond Bonheur (1796-1849). From early on she pre-ferred to draw animals and went to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris to study and draw them. She first exhibited at the Salon of 1841. The family moved to the suburbs where Bonheur had an even more easy access to animals, and she visited slaughterhouses in order to study their anatomy. Her Salon submissions became increasingly successful, but her first major breakthrough occurred with Plowing in the Nivernais (Salon 1849, Musée National du Château, Fontainebleau). Based on Sand's rustic novel La mare au Diable (1846), the work represents a heroic depiction of rural life that Bonheur had elevated to the standards of a history painting. Her international reputation was established with The Horse Fair (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), presented at the Salon of 1853. She celebrated her final triumph at the 1855 Salon with Haymaking in the Auvergne (R. W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, La.), after which she increasingly withdrew from public life. She mostly worked on her many commissions and shared her life with Nathalie Micas. The couple traveled extensively, and in 1859 Bonheur bought the Château de By in Thomery near Fontainebleau, where they lived in relative solitude. Bonheur had also little contact with the nearby group of Barbizon painters. The widespread appreciation for her work did not diminish, however, and in 1865 Empress Eugénie visited her studio in order to award her a knighthood in the Legion of Honor, making her the first woman to carry that title. Nathalie Micas died in 1889, to Bonheur's great distress, but she soon befriended the American painter Anna Klumpke (1856-1942), with whom she would eventually live and who became her biographer. Even though Bonheur was appreciated in France, her principal collectors were in England and the United States. According to Albert Wolff, she was "one of the three most highly priced French painters in America . . . the other two [were] Jules Breton [q.v.] and Meissonier [q.v.]"1 Bonheur was one of the foremost animaliers, or animal painters, of her time and was also active as a sculptor. Her painting style changed little throughout her career, and her work found little esteem with more pro-gressive artists and critics. However, her unorthodox life as an independent and successful woman in a male-dominated society has recently generated great interest, especially among feminist art historians.

1. Le Figaro (11 July 1890), 1.

Gender: F
Creator Birth Place: Bordeaux, 16 March 1822
Creator Death Place: Thomery, near Fontainebleau, 25 May 1899
Creator Name-CRT: Rosa Bonheur
Title: The Farm at the Entrance of the Wood
Title Type: Primary
Title: La ferme, à l'entrée du bois
Title Type: Foreign
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1850
Creation End Date: 1899
Creation Date: 2nd half of the 1800s
Object Type: Paintings
Classification Term: Painting
Materials and Techniques: oil on fabric
Dimensions: Unframed: 28.4cm x 40.3cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1978.73
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. John B. Dempsey
Provenance: Artist's estate sale, Georges Petit, Paris, 30 May 1900 (lot 884), The Farm at the Entrance of the Wood (La ferme, à l'entrée du bois), canvas, 15 x 15.7 [sic] in. Bought by Homer H. Johnson, Cleveland. His daughter, Mrs. John B. Dempsey, Cleveland. Given to the cma on 20 November 1978.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1978.73
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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