Rosa Bonheur’s American Dream to be auctioned on 20 March – Christie’s

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), Étude pour l'Émigration des bisons, 1896, pastel on light brown paper 57 x 94 cm (223/8 x 37¼ in.)
Estimate : €100,000-150,000 |US$110,000-160,000 | £86,000-130,000
Art Martin Cid Magazine
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Paris – Christie’s France is pleased to announce its annual Old Master and 19th Century Drawings sale. On 20 March, in Paris, the 2024 edition of this sale will be largely devoted to preparatory studies and sketches. Headline of the sale is an important and unpublished pastel on light brown paper by Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) kept for generations and until today in the same French family. 

A recent retrospective at the Musée d’Orsay helped giving Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) her righteous place in Art History. Right from the beginning of her drawing and painting career, this long forgotten artist and icon of women’s emancipation, was deeply committed to depicting animals, their singularity, as well as the relationship between animals and people.

Fascinated by the American West, where she never stepped foot, Rosa Bonheur met William F. Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, in Paris in 1889. Alongside Native American performers and bisons, Bufallo Bill was the main protagonist of the Wild West Show, a stage performance meant to present the American West to Parisian audiences. A portrait of the legendary buffalo hunter, painted at the time by Rosa Bonheur is now preserved at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Wyoming, USA. Her instant fascination for bisons is well epitomized in Étude pour l’Émigration des bisons, a preparatory work for a painting now held in a private collection. In pristine condition, this very large pastel on light brown paper by Rosa Bonheur offers a subtle, detailed and natural depiction of the bisons, their coat, their eyes and of the surrounding snowy vegetation. Undoubtedly one of the season’s highlight at Christie’s, the work is estimated €100,000-150,000|US$110,000-160,000|£86,000-130,000.

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