Isidore Bonheur

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Isidore Bonheur (Belgium, 1827 ~ 1901) Bonheur was born in Bordeaux, and was the third child of Raymond Bonheur and brother of the famous artist and sculptress Rosa Bonheur. In 1828 Bonheur moved to Paris with his mother and brothers and sister, his father having gone ahead of them to establish a residence and income. He studied painting at first enrolling in 1849 at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, though he made his debut at the salon the previous year. He won medals in 1859, 1865, 1869 and took part in the Exposition Universelle (1855), he then exhibited in London at the Royal Academy of Arts in the 1870s, where he gained great success with equine figures and groups, and won the coveted Médaille d’Or (gold medal) with a sculpture entitled ‘Cavalier Louis XV at the Exposition Universelle’ (1889). He won a silver medal at ‘l’Exposition de Madrid’ in 1892, and also a gold medal at the Exposition Internationale d’Anvers (1894). Also in 1894, Bonheur was awarded the status of Knight in the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa, Portugal. He had given up painting in favor of sculpture early on in his career, though he was noted primarily for his small animalier groups. His studio (atelier) was located at l’Impasse du Moulin Joly, on the corner of rue du Faubourg-du-Temple in Paris. Isidore Bonheur found a greater market for his work in the mid-nineteenth century in England versus France. Many of his bronzes were edited by the founder Hippolyte Peyrol, his uncle by marriage. The Peyrol casts for both Rosa and Isidore Bonheur are exceptionally well executed, which suggests a strong working relationship between the founder and sculptor. There is little doubt that Isidore Bonheur was an acute observer of nature; his animals were not anthropomorphized, but modelled to catch movement or posture characteristic of the particular species. He achieved this most successfully with his sculptures of horses, which are usually depicted as relaxed rather than spirited, and which are among his most renowned works. Isidore Bonheur was a highly accomplished sculptor and his works rank among the finest of the French Animalier school.