A Storm of Horses
An inspiring picture book about Rosa Bonheur, the most famous female painter of her century, published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the artist’s birth
In a stunning ode to underrepresented women everywhere, award-winning illustrator Ruth Sanderson tells the untold story of French artist Rosa Bonheur in this picture book biography.
Rosa Bonheur was born in 1822 in France at a time when young women had limited options beyond being a wife and mother. But Rosa wouldn’t stand for this. She wore pants, rode horses astride, and often broke society’s rules. She wanted to be a famous painter just like her father. Female artists at the time were encouraged to paint domestic scenes of children and family, but Rosa was determined to capture the unbridled wild beauty of horses.
Her masterpiece The Horse Fair was eight feet high and sixteen feet wide. Rosa went on to become the most celebrated artist of her time with paintings purchased by art collectors, museums, and galleries around the world. With the decline in popularity of realistic painting, Rosa’s trailblazing story was almost forgotten.
Revel at the bravery and fortitude of young Rosa as you take in Ruth Sanderson’s immaculate rendition of her life and artistry.
“Inspired by watching her father at work, young Rosa Bonheur dreamed of creating her own paintings and supporting herself someday. It was an unconventional, impractical notion in nineteenth-century France, but with her father’s guidance and her talent and determination, she succeeded. She was in her teens when her paintings were first exhibited at the Paris Salon. After receiving an exemption from the law forbidding women to wear men’s clothing so she could go unnoticed in men-only spaces, she learned anatomy not just from books, but by viewing skeletons at medical schools, visiting slaughterhouses, and attending horse markets where women were usually not allowed. The book showcases Bonheur’s creation of her masterpiece, The Horse Fair. Perhaps Sanderson, one of the few contemporary children’s book illustrators who sometimes paints in oils and often includes realistic depictions of animals, feels a kinship with Bonheur, who after extensive research and planning, spent a year ‘expressing her love of horses in oil paint on canvas’ (a reference to The Horse Fair). The book’s back matter includes a bibliography of books on drawing horses, reproductions of five Bonheur paintings, and a list of museums displaying her works worldwide. With a clearly written narrative and beautifully composed oil paintings, this picture book offers a memorable introduction to Rosa Bonheur.”—Booklist, starred review