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French program to discuss 19th century artist Rosa Bonheur

Photo of Bonheur's painting, "The Horse Fair."
March 16, 2012

The School of International Letters and Cultures French language program is hosting guest speaker Betsy Fahlman to present "Hors Concours: Rosa Bonheur, Animalièr" from 2-3:15 p.m., March 26, in the Language and Literature Building Room 14.

Rosa Bonheur is widely considered to have been the most famous female artist of the 19th century. She was a French animalière, that is, one who specializes in the painting of animals. Born in the port city of Bordeaux to a family of artists, Bonheur's father was an early adherent of Saint-Simonianism, a Christian-socialist sect that believed in the equal education of women alongside men.

Bonheur subsequently became a leading Second Empire cultural figure. She enjoyed an exceptionally successful career that was unequalled by artists of either gender. Her most notable canvas was "The Horse Fair" (1853-1855). In order to make studies for this stirring canvas, she had to obtain police permission to wear male attire in public.

In 1865 Bonheur became the first woman to be decorated with France's Légion d'Honneur. Given her love of horses, it is not surprising that she considered  the great event of her later years to be seeing Buffalo Bill's Wild West show at the Paris Exposition of 1889.

Guest speaker Betsy Fahlman is a professor of art history in ASU's School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. A specialist in American art, Falhman became interested in Rosa Bonheur through teaching her lecture course on Women in the Visual Arts. Bonheur is considered one of the stars of the 19th century.

Fahlman's lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Aleksandra Gruzinska at 480-965-3873 or at