Rosa Bonheur was much admired in her time, notably by Eugène Delacroix, whose remarkable animal portraits are well known, and by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot because she was also a great landscape painter, sensitive to nature and its vast agrarian spaces and to the mountscapes of the Pyrenees, the Alps, the massifs of the Auvergne and of the Scottish highlands.
Rosa Bonheur admired and respected the rural world, the hard work of the peasant and their work in the fields. She expressed herself in paintings of large format, animated by herds of cattle, sheep and horses, some of which have disappeared or have changed today. It is in the animal register that the talent of Rosa Bonheur was the most brilliant. She masterfully represented the beauty of the animal’s body and grasped in detail its anatomy and the nature of its fur and coat.
Her naturalist approach to the animal does not exclude a “humanized” representation of each animal, emphasizing the psychological part which is peculiar of it- in a way she penetrated its soul. She knew how to reveal the character of each animal through the expressions and attitudes, especially because of the in-depth study of the eye, often adding a melancholic look of the animal she draws, paints or carves.
The virtuosity of her brush-lively and vigorous- delivers a neat drawing, imprinted with virility. Her palette is pure, clear, colourful, harmonious. Although she frequented some of the famous painters of her time, such as the Impressionists, she was not part of any particular artistic movement. Having been formed by her study of the great masters exposed at the Louvre, her realistic talent is closer to that of the Barbizon painters.
Besides the great compositions, recalled here on this site, Rosa Bonheur left hundreds of preparatory drawings, studies, notebooks, numerous watercolours, all from the many preparatory stages of her artistic production.
Main large paintings.
* Plowing in Nivernais (now Nièvre) (1849), Orsay Museum , Paris, State commission, Base Joconde exhibited
* The Horse Market (1853), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, exhibited
* Haymaking in the Auvergne (1855) Fontainebleau Castle, commissioned by the State
* Portrait of Sultan and Saida (circa 1888), two of the tamer François Bidel’s lions
* The Threshing of wheat in the Camargue, (1899), Museum of Fine Arts of Bordeaux
* The Shepherd of the Pyrenees (1864) commissioned by the Duke of Aumale, Musée Condé, Chantilly, exhibited