Art is a Tyrant (Hardback)
The Unconventional Life of Rosa Bonheur
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WINNER OF THE FRANCO-BRITISH SOCIETY LITERARY AWARD 2020
'Art is a Tyrant recounts [Bonheur's] life with no little brio.' Michael Prodger, The Times Books of the Year 2020
'[A] diligently researched, beautifully produced and insistently sympathetic biography.' Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
A new biography of the wildly unconventional 19th-century animal painter and gender equality pioneer Rosa Bonheur, from the author of the acclaimed Mistress of Paris and Renoir's Dancer.
Rosa Bonheur was the very antithesis of the feminine ideal of 19th-century society. She was educated, she shunned traditional 'womanly' pursuits, she rejected marriage – and she wore trousers. But the society whose rules she spurned accepted her as one of their own, because of her genius for painting animals.
She shared an intimate relationship with the eccentric, self-styled inventor Nathalie Micas, who nurtured the artist like a wife. Together Rosa, Nathalie and Nathalie's mother bought a chateau and with Rosa's menagerie of animals the trio became one of the most extraordinary households of the day.
Catherine Hewitt's compelling new biography is an inspiring evocation of a life lived against the rules.
Catherine Hewitt studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her previous books with Icon are The Mistress of Paris (2015), 'an enthralling story, told with both conviction and sympathy' (Observer), and Renoir's Dancer (2017), described as 'fascinating' by France magazine.
[A] diligently researched, beautifully produced and insistently sympathetic biography.Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
[A] lively biography of groundbreaking French painter Rosa Bonheur … Art is a Tyrant is an impressive achievement, situating Bonheur's artistic achievement in the historical context of the Second Empire and Third Republic, and the artistic context of realism.Spiked
Enthralling … this biography, written every bit as compellingly as the best of novels, with a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, tells a story just as fantastical.Art Quarterly
Art is a Tyrant recounts [Bonheur's] life with no little brio.Michael ProdgerThe Times, Books of the Year, 2020
In Hewitt's third commanding biography of an overlooked French woman … she recounts with enriching detail and narrative drive Bonheur's absolute dedication to her work and her independence, vividly establishing the tumultuous social and political contexts in which Bonheur overcame entrenched misogyny and negative views of lesbianism. … Hewitt's rousing biography will propel a resurgence of appreciation for Bonheur and her achievements.Booklist, starred review
Hewitt's book revives Bonheur not just as an artist, but also as a gender-fluid pioneer of feminism.Art News, 'The Best Art Books to Buy as Holiday Gifts'