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Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

Moses Myers House

323 E. Freemason St.
Open Saturday and Sunday

Noon–5 p.m.

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Reading Room
Currently closed

About the Myers House

The oldest Jewish home in America open to the public as a museum offers a glimpse of the life of an early 19th century merchant family.
More about the house

About the Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Art Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

Located in Norfolk

One Memorial Place,
Norfolk, VA
Get Directions

While You're Here

Visit our Museum Shop
and the Wisteria Cafe.

Perry Glass Studio

A state-of-art facility on the Museum’s campus. See a free glassmaking demo Tuesdays–Sunday at noon. Like what you see? Take a class with us! More about the Studio

Moses Myers House

The home of the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk, this historic house offers a glimpse of the life of a wealthy early 19th-century merchant family.
More about the house

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

With an extensive collection of more than 106,000 rare and unique volumes relating to the history of art, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the Library

Wedding & Event Rentals

The perfect place for your big day or special event. Get the details

In-person Tours

Group tours are available for groups of 20 or fewer. More about tours

Jean Outland Chrysler Library

Visit one of the most significant art libraries in the South. More about the library

About the Chrysler

Our story spans well over 100 years. See where we began, how we grew, and where we're going. Explore our history

News and Announcements

See what's happening at the Museum, read Chrysler Magazine, and find our Media Center. Read now

Location

745 Duke Street
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-333-6299

Always Free Parking

Get Directions

Third Thursdays

Live art performances monthly.
See the archive

Studio Team

Meet the brilliant minds behind the Studio.
See the team

Visiting Artist Series

Bringing the world’s top glass art talent to Hampton Roads
Find out more

Give the Chrysler Experience

Share everything you love about the Chrysler Museum with a gift membership. Perfect for everyone on your list.

The Masterpiece Society

Learn about this innovative group of museum supporters.
Meet the Masterpiece Society

Planned Giving

Help ensure the long-term success of the Museum.
Learn about planned giving

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March 4, 2021

Rosa Bonheur: Boundary Breaker

–Bobbie Gribble, Museum Docent

The Rural Ideal, European Art 19th Century, Gallery 215, 2014

Tucked away in a glass case in Gallery 215 among other bronze pieces is a small bull by Rosa Bonheur. It’s one of three objects in the Chrysler’s collection by one of the nineteenth century’s most famous woman artists. Though her work was conventional, her lifestyle was far from it. She smoked in public; lived with her partner Natalie Micas for forty years; hunted, something most women were shunned for during that time; and even got police permission to wear men’s clothes. “I was forced to recognize that the clothing of my sex was a constant bother. This is why I solicited the authorization to wear men’s clothing from the prefect of police. But the suit I wear is my work attire, and nothing else. The epithets of imbeciles have never bothered me,[1]” she said.

Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899), Bull, 1800s, Bronze, Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., 71.2008

Animals were at the center of Bonheur’s work and show up in all her objects in the Chrysler’s collection, including The Shepherd, a black and white engraving that features a shepherd with a flock of sheep, and a pencil drawing of a cow. A painter and sculptor, Bonheur portrayed animals in a realist style. Instead of leaning on academic training, she taught herself. She started by watching her parents. Her mother taught her the alphabet by drawing animals for each letter. Her father, also an artist, brought live animals to his studio so that he could study them and paint them accurately. Bonheur often watched him work.

Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899), D. Appleton & Co., Publisher, The Shepherd, 19th century, Engraving, 0.299

At fourteen, Bonheur went to the Louvre to copy paintings of animals. She also studied animal anatomy in the city’s slaughterhouses and even dissected animals at the National Veterinary Institute so she could understand how to best paint and sculpt them.

Bonheur’s most famous paintings were Ploughing in the Nevers, in the collection of Musée d’Orsay, and The Horse Fair, which debuted at the Paris Salon in 1853 and was gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1887 by Cornelius Vanderbilt. She was adored by Queen Victoria and once enjoyed a visit from Empress Eugenie, who made a special trip to award her the Legion of Honor. A confident woman and artist not to be restricted by societal norms and expectations of her time, Rosa Bonheur paved the way for other women artists, many of whom have works on view in the Chrysler’s galleries.

Celebrate the Birthday of Rosa Bonheur!

On Tuesday, March 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., join the staff of the National Museum of Women in the Arts for a virtual happy hour to celebrate Rosa Bonheur‘s birthday! We will make a specialty cocktail in her honor, share artworks and stories, and explore the museum’s collection and archives for all things Rosa.

 

[1] “Rosa Bonheur – Biography, Quotations & Art – The Art History Archive,” Rosa Bonheur – Biography, Quotations & Art – The Art History Archive, accessed March 4, 2021, http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/realism/Rosa-Bonheur.html.

From the Collection