Home > Book Recommendations > Book Recommendation: Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend by Dore Ashton

Book Recommendation: Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend by Dore Ashton

Bonheur biography


This biography tells of the amazing life an artist, one lived through warfare, political and artistic upheavals in one of the most turbulent times in France.  Rosa Bonheur [1822-1899] was known for her animal paintings including The Horse Fair.  I had bought a small etching mimicking The Horse Fair and wanted to known more about her life and work.  The short two hundred page book gives a very detailed overview of her life and career in  two hundred pages loaded down with events, aspects of her personal life and many recognizable names from history crossed paths with her.  There are a number of source documents, etchings, lithographs, photographs and paintings included; they are all in  lack and white yet many of the paintings can be found and referenced online.

Being one of the last traditional Salon style artists prior to the arrival of Impressionism, Bonheur had lived through the struggles of  her time and had been a successful career artist.  There had been initial acclaim in the Salons when she was younger, yet overall her work was more popular in England and America.  The author avoids speculation about the artist’s contemporary social significance regarding (to quote the wiki) “academic criticism to locate Bonheur as a proto-Feminist and as a pivotal figure for Queer theory” and sticks to the facts and sources  for her information for the complex and varied life of Bonheur.

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