Rosa Bonheur: The Museum of missing works

Exhibition, Guided Tour
from 09/03/2022 to 28/08/2022
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Original title in French: “Le Musée des œuvres disparues”

One of the most successful artists of the 19th century, passionate about animals and the living world, Rosa Bonheur was awarded the Chevallier de la Légion d’Honneur by Empress Eugenie, in 1865, with these words: “Finally, you are a knight. I am very happy to be the godmother of the first woman artist to receive this high distinction. I wanted the last act of my regency to be devoted to showing that, in my eyes, genius has no sex.”

The Château Rosa Bonheur, is the property at By Thomery near the Forest of Fontainebleau (Paris Region) that the artist bought with the proceeds of the sale of her 1853 painting the Horsefair (now at the Metropolitain Museum New York). The Chateau is leading the commemorations of the Bicentenary of her birth in 1822. Recent discoveries in the attic of the property have revealed many aspects of the artist and her work formerly neglected. The Chateau aims to redress this with a series of temporary exhibitions complementing the guided tour of the artist’s studio, preserved unchanged for over 100 years.

Rosa Bonheur: The Museum of missing works
Photograph of the auction of Rosa Bonheur's works after her death.
Collection Chateau de Rosa Bonheur.

Throughout her life, Rosa Bonheur kept almost all of her sketches, thus constituting a kind of “database”. These private creations – drawings, oils, watercolours, pastels, caricatures, comic strips – were sometimes notes that she took at random from her travels, sometimes preparatory studies for a particular painting, or even illustrations of great myths. She always refused to sell them.

When she died in 1899, these hidden works were sold at auction, representing more than 4,700 works. In the months leading up to the sale, the american painter Anna Klumpke, Rosa Bonheur’s “adopted daughter” and universal legatee, photographed all these works on glass plates in order to preserve a trace of them in the archives. For over 100 years these glass negatives lay forgotten in the attic at Thoméry. Today, many of the original works have disappeared leaving as the only trace of their existence, these black and white negative images on glass plates which were recently discovered by the new owners of the Château de Rosa Bonheur. About 100 photographs are presented to the public in the form of modern prints until 28 August 2022.

Château de Rosa Bonheur How to get there

12 rue Rosa Bonheur,
33 (0)9 87 12 35 04

website (in English)

See also the exhibition Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

More information about events for the Bicentenary of Rosa Bonheur on the Seine et Marne website (in French)

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