Rosa Bonheur, whose original name was Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, was born on March 16, 1822 in Bordeaux, France and died on May 25, 1899, in Chateau de By, near Fontainebleau. Rosa was a French painter and a sculptor. She was well known for her painting accuracy and the detail she gave to her pictures promoting animals. Rosa father, Raymond Bonheur, was the one who trained Rosa. Raymond was an art teacher and a follower of the social theorist. In 1833, Rosa’s mother, Sophie Bonheur, died of exhaustion at the age of thirty six. Rosa was eleven when her mother died. Then, she was taken in by the Micas family. The Micas family has been a long-time friend with Rosa’s mother. Years after, Rosa met a close friend, Nathalie Micas, who became a long life companion.
When Rosa became a teen, she started drawing live animals and she also study animals movements on the farm. She likes animals as a subject and she likes dissecting them. Her love for animal earned her a successful living as a painter of animals. She was the first woman to be awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. She also study and sketch lions to master the characteristics of their movement. Rosa was different from the other artist because, her success was earned during the early stages of her career. Due to her desire to understand the study of animals, led her to the slaughter house of Parish. The slaughter house of parish do not allow woman on the premises but Rosa circumvent this prohibition by cutting her hair very short and started dressing in men’s clothing which she became used to. Finally, she also got the approval of the city of Paris for her to be able to work and travel in men’s clothing within the city because women weren’t allowed to wear men’s clothing. Although, people questioned personal habits but she kept doing it proving to the people that her behavior was a form of performance art by showing that impersonating a man was the only means available to a woman wishing to secure social and professional equality.
One of Rosa Bonheur major artwork was the Plowing in the Nivernias. It was made in 1849 – which was one year after the revolution in France – People began to move out away from all the chaos of the city where the revolution happened into the countryside. The painting was considered to be oil on canvas. The plowing in the Nievane was a painting that showed oxens turning the soil in the fall to prepare for the following year’s season. It also showed men on the Nivernais controlling the oxens. The soil in the image showed the strength of France. The image also showed how incredibly rich and fertile the earth looks thereby bring out a sense of nationalistic idea of the French countryside. Those oxen in the image looked so powerful and so beautiful; those oxen backs are beautifully aligned that shows a sense of durability. Looking at the image, the first thing you can notice are the huge cows and you can also see the artist using colors green to describe grasses, blue skies and, some brown and white oxens.
The portrait was made in a two dimensional form. The artist also used colors to describe the daytime which was in the afternoon. Also, shadow effects where shown. Looking at this image, we can tell that she is emphasizing the importance of landscape, and animal painting, on a scale that is often reserved for history painting. And I think she was trying to tell France that they were going to survive but will strive.