I was always aware of her stupendous painting, "The Horse Fair", stood in front of it for ages and attempted to sketch part of it this last December at the Metropolitan. But it was finding this calf painting online that led me to start learning more about her, because it reminded me a bit of my own calf pieces (no disrespect to Rosa!). I had no idea (embarrassingly) of her prolific paintings and love for all animals. Her cows, oxen, dogs, sheep, horses... all are inspiring to me.
What an extraordinary woman and life. How wonderful for me, another woman painter and lover of animals, to find such a kindred spirit in an artist who came so long before me, who was so unafraid and unapologetic. It's not like there are a lot of them from that era. I can't even begin to describe how her story has affected me and my thoughts on painting what I love.
A trip to Chateau de By, her home and studio, is certainly on the list now. I cannot recommend this book enough, Rosa Bonheur by Anna Klumpke, translated by Gretchen van Slyke.
On finishing her painting "Treading Wheat" (which remained unfinished)...
" It's just like 'The Horse Fair', 'Stampede of Scottish Oxen', and 'Scottish Oxen'. I let myself get carried away, but you mustn't think that's always the case. No doubt some artists let the inner self take over against their will; but I know how to resist that and yield to the subject. I never shrink from work, however thankless it may seem. It's all right to paint something intense in a bold, free way; but for something calm, the technical side of the painting needs polish, even down to tne minutest details, which are the center of interest, but without getting finicky, of course. By studying all the subtle graduations, you can produce amazingly real effects."
I will continue to work for the rest of my life at becoming what she would call "a worthy Sister of the Brush."
Thank you, Rosa.