Art Diary

Rosa Bonheur

14 October 2022

Marking the bicentenary of the birth of the artist, this exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (18 October–15 January 2023) provides an opportunity to revisit Bonheur’s pioneering and unconventional oeuvre. Renowned for her detailed studies of animals, Bonheur produced a vast body of work during her lifetime, working from live observation of animals seen during her travels to Scotland, the American West, the Pyrenees and beyond. Bonheur attracted international recognition at the age of 19 when she exhibited two works – Goats and Sheep (1840) and Rabbits Nibbling Carrots (1840) – at the Paris Salon of 1841. With a focus on her commercial success, the exhibition also highlights how the artist railed against convention, wearing men’s clothing, cutting her hair short and living with her lifelong companion Nathalie Micas. The vast display of more than 200 works includes one of her most well-known paintings The Horse Fair (1855), which was first shown at the Paris Salon in 1853, as well as more unusual animal portraits such as The King of the Forest (1878) alongside sculptures and photographs. Find out more on the Musée d’Orsay’s website.

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Wild Horses Fleeing the Fire (1899), Rosa Bonheur. Musée de Peintres de Barbizon. Photo: © Château de Rosa Bonheur

The King of the Forest (1878), Rosa Bonheur. Private Collection. Photo: © Christie’s Images / Bridgeman Images

Herd Crossing a River (c. 1867–73), Rosa Bonheur. Musée d’Orsay, Paris