Rosa Bonheur dans son atelier

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

From 18 October 2022 to 15 January 2023, the Musée d’Orsay is honouring the work and life of artist Rosa Bonheur, painter of animals, to mark the bicentenary of her birth. It is the recognition of a major 19th-century artist.

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Rosa Bonheur was one of the greatest artists of her time, celebrated in Europe and the United States, and her works were among the most expensive in their day. Her work as a “painter of animals” (animalière) remains little known today.

On the occasion of the bicentenary of her birth, the Musée d’Orsay pays tribute to this innovative and original artist by presenting, from 18 October 2022 to 15 January 2023, a major retrospective exhibition organised in partnership with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Bordeaux, the city of the artist’s birth, the Château Musée Rosa Bonheur in Thomery, where she lived for over 40 years, and the Musée des Peintres de Barbizon.

This landmark exhibition invites you to (re)discover the power and richness of her work, by gathering and choosing from the artist’s immense corpus a demanding selection of some 200 works (paintings, graphic arts, sculptures, photographs) from the most prestigious public and private collections in Europe and the United States, some of which have been recently discovered.

An icon of women’s emancipation and a committed artist

Beyond her immense artistic talent, Rosa Bonheur was also known for her feminist convictions, working for the emancipation of women in a society that was still too rigidly constrained. The first woman artist to receive the Legion of Honour, from Empress Eugénie, Rosa Bonheur was able to join forces with the most eminent dealers and collectors to dominate the art market and assert her financial and moral independence. She was thus able to organize her life around her work and the unceasing quest for perfection, alongside her life partner Nathalie Micas, who lived with her for over 50 years and participated in her art. The preservation of her studio and archives was the result of the commitment of Bonheur’s fellow artist the American painter Anna Klumpke, who lived in the By castle during the last years of the artist’s life.

Rosa Bonheur was also an early advocate for the recognition of animals as unique sentient beings. Thanks to her great technical mastery, she was able to render both the anatomy and psychology of animals, creating an eminently expressive work of extraordinary realism. The painting *
Ploughing in the Nivernais**, painted in 1849 and now on view in the Musée d’Orsay, is a stunning illustration of the fresh, and sometimes scientific, gaze that this woman had of the animals to which she was deeply attached. In particular, she kept a formidable menagerie at her property in By, with dozens of different species, including dogs, deer and wild animals.

Over 200 years after her birth, Rosa Bonheur’s art and personality resonate with many societal issues that remain more relevant than ever: the place of women in art and society, as well as the animal cause and its place in rural life and the environment.

The must-see exhibition this autumn in Paris Region!

Let yourself be seduced by the authentic charm of the surrounding countryside by enjoying a bucolic weekend between nature and the open air.

Explore more exhibitions in Paris Region.

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Community facilities

Access and contact

1, rue de la Légion d’Honneur
75007 Paris 7ème

Days and opening hours

From 18/10/2022 to 15/01/2023 between 9.30 am and 6 pm. Closed on Monday. Thursday: 9.30am - 9.45pm.


  • Full price: 16 €, Reduced price: 13 €.

    Nightly rate (Thursdays from 6pm). Price : 12 € online / 10 € on site.


Spoken languages

  • French
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