Google Doodle Honors Rosa Bonheur.

Google Doodle celebrates the 200th anniversary of artist Rosa Bonheur’s birthday, a trailblazing Frenchwoman who would become the darling of the English art scene for her Realist paintings of animals.

As a young woman, Bonheur was encouraged to paint.

She spent her days in abattoirs and fields studying her animal subjects, and by the time she was in her early 30s, she had become famous for her painting The Horse Fair (ca. 1852–55)

Which now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The success of this work launched her career definitively.

Soon after that work drew acclaim, Bonheur met with royalty like Queen Victoria, and she would eventually become the first woman to be awarded France’s highest order, the Legion of Honor.

All this meant that Bonheur achieved her lifelong dream of supporting herself and the women she loved financially.

Bonheur lived with her partner Nathalie Micas for more than 40 years, up until the day Micas died.

When looking back at the history of art and noting the lack of canonized women, the presence of an artist like Bonheur can often seem surprising.

If she could make it, why not others? This was the question that Linda Nochlin asked in her landmark 1971 essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Nochlin acknowledges Bonheur great talent while pointing out the highly specific circumstances that allowed Bonheur to become one of the most successful and accomplished women painters of all time.

That essay, along with other writings by feminist scholars, has helped bring renewed attention to Bonheur over the past few decades.


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