The Matriarchal Reign of Artist Rosa Bonheur

A R T L▼R K

51MHMbCQsRL._On the 16th of March 1822, French painter and sculptor Marie-Rosalie Bonheur was born in Bordeaux, Gironde, as the oldest child in a family of artists. A feisty, ambitious woman, Bonheur achieved more than most of her female contemporaries could ever dream of. During a time when the Napoleonic Codeslimited French women to access their own money or receive an inheritance, Bonheur, whose mother died when she was 10 (allegedly of emotional exhaustion bringing up a large family mostly on her own) was determined to pursue her own independent path in life. She refused her artist father’s protection and his offer to sign her paintings with his name, in order to validate her art in a patriarchal society. Bonheur worked hard at building a very lucrative career painting mainly animals and large scale dynamic compositions in oils.  She earned all of a maximum of three Salon medals…

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