Born on March 16, 1822 in Bordeaux into a large family of artists.Her mother Sophie Marquis married Raymond Bonheur who was also her drawing teacher. Raymond painted landscapes of Bordeaux and portraits and instilled a love of art in all his children.
As a child when Rosa was struggling at school her mother used her love of drawing to her advantage. Asking Rosa to draw an animal for each of the letters of the alphabet was just the trick she needed. Her mother died when she was young and her school life suffered. Expelled twice her father finally took her out of school and focused on teaching her how to paint.
Raymond specialized in Realism and to help Rosa he had their Paris home filled with animals. From squirrels and rabbits to ducks and sheep the young artist had all she needed to begin her life as a painter of animals. Once she needed more subjects she would visit farms in Levalois-Perret and the Bois de Boulogne. Rosa was lucky to have an artist as a father as few women were able to find teachers at the time. Spending her days in the Musée du Louvre as a copyist always being pulled to the masters paintings of animals. At 19 year she was already showing her pieces at the Paris Salon and selling her paintings to avid collectors.
As a female painter in the 19th century she was able to do something few other women did. She became an international star. The copies of the Horse Fair were selling all over England and the United States and Empress Eugenie was also an avid fan. In 1865 Eugenie urged her husband for quite some time to award Rosa the Legion of Honor for her work and spreading French art around the world. He finally gave in with the stipulation that he would have nothing to do with it and it would be given without a formal ceremony. On June 10, 1865 Eugenie traveled to the Chateau de By and presented Rosa with the highest award a civilian could get. Anna would later paint her wearing the metal, today it is still in the Chateau de By.
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