Two centuries ago, educational opportunities for women in the art world were limited. But art seemed to be in Rosa Bonheur’s blood. Google today celebrates through a doodle on its homepage the 200th birthday of French painter Rosa Bonheur, whose successful career inspired a future generation of women in the arts.
Today’s doodle is an animated image of Rosa Bonheur painting a flock of sheep on a canvas. As Wikipedia points out, Rosa Bonheur was born on this day, in 1822, in Bordeaux. His early art education was aided by his father, a minor landscape painter. Although her aspirations for an artistic career were unconventional for women of the time, Bonheur closely followed the development of artistic traditions through years of careful study and preparation of sketches before immortalizing them on canvas.
Bonheur’s reputation as a painter and sculptor of animals grew in the 1840s, and many of his works were exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon from 1841 to 1853. Scholars believe that the 1849 exhibition of “Labourage nivernais”, a commission from the government which is now in the National Museum of the Château de Fontainebleau, established him as a professional artist.
In 1853, Bonheur gained international fame with his painting “Le Marché aux chevals”, which depicts the horse market held in Paris. This painting, which is his best-known work, is still on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In honour of this famous painting, French Empress Eugénie awarded Rosa Bonheur the Legion of Honor, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards, in 1865. It was the first time the honour was recognized. awarded to a female artist. One of Rosa Bonheur’s works, Monarques de la forêt, sold at auction in 2008 for over $2 million. Bonheur died in 1899 at the age of 77 and was buried alongside his lifelong companion, Nathalie Micas, in the Père-Lachaise cemetery.