#1 Artist’s Houses in France: Rosa Bonheur


The most famous French artists are known all over the world. But these big names of the Arts did not only leave their work behind. Sometimes, their houses became museums that let us dive further in to their lives and their worlds.

Here is the first stop on our Artist’s house French tour.

The extravagant Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899): Rosa was an expert in Animal painting, made internationally famous by her works such as Le Marché aux chevaux (The Horses’ Market, 1853) and Labourage Nivernais (1849).

Labourage nivernais (1849), Paris, musée d'Orsay.

Labourage nivernais (1849), Paris, musée d’Orsay.

But she also became famous for her “liberated” lifestyle, especially for a woman of her time.
She shocked the notables of the Second Empire. She dressed like a man, was a friend of Buffalo Bill, and lived with women.

First Natalie Micas, who will later write her biography. Then, Ana Klample, who will become her inheritor. As an animal lover, she turns the “Hamlet of By” in a true menagerie. The guests walk then among the animals, including tamed lions. Among those guests, the most famous will be the Empress Eugenie who will give her the Legion of honor for first time as a woman.

Those animals are not only there to shock or impress her famous guests. She also used them as models for her paintings. You can still today see Rosa’s workshop in the Castle of By.

Like her owner, the castle has its own particular style which reflects the artist’s life. Between former menagerie with stuffed animals on the walls and an artist’s workshop, full of works of art, paintings, and sculptures.

Another interesting fact was that over time, Rosa Bonheur lost a bit of popularity as an artist but became famous to be one of the first feminist and “LGBT” artists of her time. One of her paintings was chosen during the exposition “La mirada del otro” for the World Pride 2017.

Address of the Castle: Musée de l’atelier de Rosa Bonheur, Château de By, 77810 Thomery FRANCE

Sources: Wikipedia, LeRoutard.com

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