Capturing the soul. Rosa Bonheur and animal art

From 3 June 2022 to 23 January 2023, to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), the Château de Fontainebleau will be highlighting the special link between this artist and this “house of the centuries” through more than fifty works.

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The exhibition “Capturing the Soul. Rosa Bonheur and animal art” presented at the Château de Fontainebleau from June 3, 2022 to January 23, 2023 invites you to rediscover the talent of this extraordinary wildlife artist through 50 outstanding works, some of which have never before been shown to the public. They highlight the special relationship Rosa Bonheur had with the château, which is revealed on this occasion as the place of remembrance chosen by her friend Anna Klumpke.

Rosa Bonheur, an extraordinary woman and artist

Known throughout the world, Rosa Bonheur helped France shine on the international art scene of her day. She was the most famous, and most highly awarded and decorated female artist of her time. Close to Empress Eugenie who personally presented her with the Knight’s Cross of the Legion of Honour, she was a regular guest at the château de Fontainebleau, which she lived near to, after having bought the château de By a few miles away in 1860. It was in this charming, unspoilt house that she set up her studio and painted some of her most famous works.

Donated works

Anna Klumpke, a portrait painter, came into Rosa Bonheur’s life in 1889. She was named as the universal legatee ** following the artist’s death on 25 May 1899** and was keen to keep her memory alive. However, due to disagreements between the heirs, a sale of all the works had to be organised in Paris in June 1900, during which Anne Klumpke bought part of the collection, which she then decided to donate to the national museums. The close proximity of By, the common setting of the forest and the relationship between Rosa Bonheur and both the palace and the imperial couple, made the Château de Fontainebleau a particularly good choice for hosting these works and ensuring her memory lives on.

This exhibition proposes an exploration of the donations of 1922 and 1924 which made it possible to assemble an exceptional collection of around a hundred items, with some fifty paintings, drawings, lithographs, sculptures, awards and decorations, based around the great composition commissioned by the State in 1852, La Fenaison en Auvergne. All of these works demonstrate Rosa Bonheur’s fascination for the majestic animals, whose souls she captured so well.

The Art History Festival, featuring the theme of animals, to be held at the Château de Fontainebleau from 3 to 5 June 2022, is one of the events proposed for the bicentenary of the birth of Rosa Bonheur.

Discover more exhibitions in the Paris Region.

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Access and contact

Château de Fontainebleau
Place du Général de Gaulle
77300 Fontainebleau

    • By train 50 minutes away from the Gare de Lyon (mainline train) is the Fontainebleau-Avon station; once there, take a bus on line 1 and stop at La Poste-Château
    • By car / By bus: 45 minutes from the Porte d’Orleans or the Porte d’Italie From Paris, take the A6 (Porte d’Orleans or the Porte d’Italie), the Fontainebleau exit Follow signs for Fontainebleau, then follow the signs for «château»

    Days and opening hours

    From 03/06/2022 to 23/01/2023, every Saturday and Sunday.



    Spoken languages

    • French
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    • Accessible for self-propelled wheelchairs
    • Reception staff sensitized to the reception of people with disabilities