Wednesday 19 October 2011

Otter hound

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) painted this picture of an otter hound which can be seen at the Wallace Collection.  Rosa is a French painter and sculptor best known for her paintings of animals.  She was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, the first woman to be so honoured.
By family accounts, she had been an unruly child and had a difficult time learning to read. To remedy this her mother taught her to read and write by having her select and draw an animal for each letter of the alphabet. To this practice in the company of her doting mother she attributed her love of drawing animals.
Her most famous work is the monumental (8 feet high and 16 feet wide) The Horse Fair which she painted in 1849 and which was purchased by the American millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt and which now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Oddly enough she was more popular in England than in France.  She met Queen Victoria who was an admirer of her work. 
An early Bohemian and feminist, Bonheur defied female convention of the day by wearing men’s clothing and smoking cigarettes.  On her wearing of trousers, she said at the time that her choice of attire was simply practical as it facilitated her work with animals: "I was forced to recognize that the clothing of my sex was a constant bother. That is why I decided to solicit the authorization to wear men's clothing from the prefect of police. But the suit I wear is my work attire, and nothing else. The epithets of imbeciles have never bothered me...."
The Horse Fair


1 comment:

Whispering Walls said...

Great artist, great woman