The Artist's (Auto)biography
Translated and with an Introduction by Gretchen van Slyke
The intimate biography of French painter Rosa Bonheur by her companion Anna Klumpke
In a century that did its best to keep women "in their place," Rosa Bonheur (1822--99) defined herself outside of the social and legal codes of her time. To the horror and bewilderment of many, she earned her own money, managed her own property, wore trousers, hunted, and smoked.
Rosa Bonheur: The Artist's (Auto)Biography brings this extraordinary woman to life in a unique blend of biography and autobiography. Anna Klumpke, a young American artist who was Bonheur's lover and chosen portraitist, narrates Bonheur's life while preserving Bonheur's own spirited voice speaking out on such topics as gender formation, governmental intervention in the art world, the restrictiveness of dress codes, and the transgressive nature of female sexual companionship in a repressive society, Gretchen van Slyke's translation and introduction provide a rare glimpse into the unconventional life of this famous painter, rendering accessible for the first time in English this public statement of Bonheur's artistic credo.
Gretchen van Slyke is Professor of French, University of Vermont.
Praise / Awards
"The remarkable life of Rosa Bonheur, one of the most highly decorated artists and certainly the best known female artist of her time in nineteenth-century France, is long overdue for further scrutiny."
--Therese Dolan, Temple University
"Drawing on her own meticulous journal entries as well as Bonheur's letters, sketches and diaries, Klumpke traces Bonheur's trailblazing life and recounts how she met Bonheur, fell in love and became her official portraitist, companion and sole heir. . . . What Klumpke's biography does, however, is 'reveal in a sympathetic light the ways that women could and did love, live, work, and thrive among themselves in chosen retreat from a patriarchal century.'"
". . . tells the fascinating, unconventional story of the famous 19th-century French artist. Written by Bonheur's lover, American artist Anna Klumpke, with in put from Bonheur herself, the biography effectively shows Bonheur's devotion to the great loves of her life: her mother, her art, and her female companions."
". . . a complex and lovely book about the famous French painter's life from three different points of view. . . . Translator Gretchen van Slyke has rendered the original French into graceful, compelling prose. After finishing this book, my strongest emotion was gratitude for having been allowed to see so intimately into the lives of these productive, caring women."
--Lambda Book Report
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