The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Both children aspired to be painters like their father, Raymond-Oscar Bonheur, a landscape painter in early 19th-century Bordeaux. In due time, the younger, Auguste, enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he received the standard academic training for a young man of that time. His sister, Rosa, on the other hand, stayed at home and was taught privately by her father: it would be more than a generation before the École des Beaux-Arts began admitting women. The barrier was significant: certain prestigious competitions and prizes, the Prix de Rome, for instance, were available only to École students. Ironically, more than a century later, it is Marie-Rosalie (Rosa) Bonheur (1822-1899) whose reputation dominates that of Raymond and Auguste. Even during her lifetime she was known as the best animal painter in France, perhaps in all of Europe. She exhibited to acclaim at the Salon for a dozen years, from 1841 to 1853, a string of successes that would have turned her younger contemporary Édouard Manet green with envy. Meant sincerely as a compliment, the phrase “She paints like a man” was echoed and reechoed by critics and colleagues. Later critics, less kind, speculated whether she would have reached such fame had she been a man.
Southgate MT. Barbaro After the Hunt. JAMA. 2006;296(18):2178. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2178