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Google has unveiled a doodle honoring French painter Rosa Bonheur, whose flourishing career instilled faith in future generations of women in the arts. French artist Bonheur was primarily a painter of animals, but he was also a sculptor, working in the realist tradition. With its doodle, Google paid tribute to this most famous female painter of the nineteenth century by painting Bonheur’s favorite subject- animals.
Rosa Bonheur, original name Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, was born two centuries ago in Bordeaux, France, on March 16, 1822. Her paintings of animals were renowned for their incredible precision and detail. She was trained by her father, Raymond Bonheur, an artist and art teacher. Rosa Bonheur studied and sketched the evolution of creative traditions for years before immortalizing them on canvas, despite the fact that her career in the arts was unusual for a woman at that time.
In her teens, Rosa Bonheur’s habit of drawing live animals became evident, and instead of pursuing a career as a tailor, she began observing and drawing animals at farms, stockyards, animal markets, and horse fairs, becoming proficient in animal anatomy.
Rosa Bonheur’s first significant work, Ploughing in the Nivernais, is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. “The Horse Fair,” completed in 1855, was eight feet high by sixteen feet wide. Paris’ horse market is shown in the painting. From 1841 through 1853, Rosa Bonheur’s reputation as a painter and sculptor of animals increased. Her works were shown at the prestigious Paris Salon. Plowing in the Nivernais established her as a professional artist.
Women were often reluctantly educated as artists in Bonheur’s day, but by becoming such a successful artist, she helped to open doors for women. In 1865, the French Empress Eugénie bestowed upon Bonheur one of the nation’s most prestigious awards – the Legion of Honor.