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Macdonald, Maryann Rosa’s Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie. Abrams, 2018 64p
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4197-2850-1 $21.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-68335-293-8 $17.10 R Gr. 3-6

Painter Rosa Bonheur would have found little opportunity for formal art education in early to mid-nineteenth century France, but fortunately her freethinking father trained all of his children to become professional artists. Rosa would become the most noted, a Realist who focused on exotic and domesticated species and rendered them in sometimes monumentally sized canvases. Macdonald pares Rosa’s biography down to accessible chapters, highlighting such interest-sparking details as the artist’s need for documented permission to dress as a man to attend horse fairs and the mid-century portrait dolls modeled after her that became something of a rage. Plentiful, generously scaled reproductions of Bonheur’s work and that of several contemporaries will lure in browsers, and discussion of the Impressionist movement that drove Realism from the field adds important context. Bonheur’s committed relationships with Nathalie Micas and painter Anna Klumpke are noted, but almost certainly with more discretion than Rosa herself might have advised. An author’s note, quotation sources, bibliography, index, and exhibit list are included.

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