Rosa Bonheur eBook cover $9.99 on Kindle, Nook, Apple iBooks, Kobo

Rosa Bonheur: The Artist’s (Auto)biography by Anna Klumpke (translated from the French and with an introduction by Gretchen van Slyke; 126,000 words, 25 illustrations)

Hailed as one of the foremost painters of the nineteenth century, Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) lived to see her name become a household word. In a century that did its best to keep women “in their place,” she earned her own money, managed her own property, wore trousers, hunted, smoked, and lived in retreat with women companions in a château near Fontainebleau.

Rosa Bonheur: The Artist’s (Auto)biography brings this extraordinary woman to life, blending Bonheur’s first-person account with the memoirs of Anna Klumpke, a young American artist who was Bonheur’s last companion and chosen portraitist. Klumpke recounts their first meeting, her growing affection for the much older Bonheur, and her decision to live with the artist. Bonheur’s account of her own life story, set within Klumpke’s narrative, sheds light on such currently compelling subjects as gender formation, governmental intervention in the arts, the social and legal regulation of dress codes, and the transgressive nature of same-sex relationships in a repressive society.


“What a pleasure to have this essential document of art history available in an up-to-date translation. Anna Klumpke’s biography of Rosa Bonheur is, of course, not only an important art-historical document, but a major contribution to the social history of nineteenth-century France and a moving testimony to human attachment as well.” —
Linda Nochlin

“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

“... tells the fascinating, unconventional story of the famous 19th-century French artist. Written by Bonheur’s lover, American artist Anna Klumpke, with input 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.” —
Washington Blade

“A cigar-smoking, cross-dressing eccentric à la George Sand, Rosa Bonheur was one of the 19th century’s most popular artists... 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.” —
Publishers Weekly

“It is a treat to have
Rosa Bonheur: The Artist’s (Auto)biography... available in English. Bonheur (1822-1899), a lesbian born in France, channeled her formidable talent into painting animals, lived a highly unconventional life, and received special permission to wear pants in public... This combination autobiography and biography, originally published in 1908, includes a vibrant introduction by the translator.” — Feminist Bookstore News

“Each part of the story — translator’s, Klumpke’s, and Bonheur’s — is so engagingly written that reading it is like an adventure with an emphasis on the development and support of female creativity... Anna Klumpke poured her love into magnificent portraits of Bonheur and later into writing and managing Bonheur’s estate. 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