A new biography of the wildly unconventional 19th-century animal painter and gender equality pioneer Rosa Bonheur, from the author of the acclaimed Mistress of Paris and Renoir’s Dancer.
Rosa Bonheur was the very antithesis of the feminine ideal of 19th-century society. She was educated, she shunned traditional ‘womanly’ pursuits, she rejected marriage – and she wore trousers. But the society whose rules she spurned accepted her as one of their own, because of her genius for painting animals.
She shared an intimate relationship with the eccentric, self-styled inventor Nathalie Micas, who nurtured the artist like a wife. Together Rosa, Nathalie and Nathalie’s mother bought a chateau and with Rosa’s menagerie of animals the trio became one of the most extraordinary households of the day.
Catherine Hewitt’s compelling new biography is an inspiring evocation of a life lived against the rules.