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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more Auguste Bonheur was born on 21st September 1824. His father, Raymond Bonheur, was a painter of historical subjects having trained in Bordeaux under Pierre Lacour (1778-1859), a pupil of Jacques-Louis David. Auguste and his sister Rosa received their formal training in their father's atelier. Auguste and Rosa were known to have collaborated on a number of works and were interested in depicting similar subject matter, 'Like his sister, he paints oxen with remarkable truthfulness, but in her overshadowing fame that of the brother has been lessened, and he has not always received the praise justly his due.' (Walter and Hutton, Artists of the Nineteenth Century, 1894). Auguste devoted his artistic career to landscape and animal painting. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in the early 1840s, winning a third class medal in 1852, a second class medal in 1859 and a first class medal in 1861. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and in Manchester and Leeds. In 1867 Auguste Bonheur was decorated with the Legion d'Honneur, he continued to paint and exhibit his work until his death on 21st February 1884. Bonheur's art, as part of the Realist current that emerged in the 1840s, was grounded in direct observation of nature and meticulous draughtsmanship. Though La Sortie du Paturage and Le Combat, Souvenir des Pyrenees are disparate in mood, we can see in both Bonheur's fascination with animal musculature and landscape. As a member of the generation of Barbizon artists who refused to see nature violated or altered by modernisation, Bonheur focussed on those animals and people whom he feared would soon be eliminated as a result of change and progress; this idealisation of the traditional rural way of life is perfectly captured by these two canvasses. The idea of the agricultural idyll, as opposed to the rapid industrialisation of the cities, is typified in La Sortie du Paturage. Here Bonheur chooses a perfect sunny day, with the unhurried trail of livestock and their drovers meandering towards us from a distance. There is a glimpse of a picturesque church spire on the right of the composition, hinting at their final destination. The strong sun glints off the musculature of the oxen and the fleece of the sheep, showcasing the anatomical accuracy and sense of texture for which Bonheur was most famous. This tranquil atmosphere is sharply contrasted by the drama and power of Le Combat, Souvenir des Pyrenees not only through the dynamism of the composition, but in the ominous shrouding of cloud and the choice of rugged terrain. The diversity of the two works reveals the reason for Bonheur's absorption with oxen: the contrast between their capacity as passive domesticated farming animals and their great physical size and power.


signed and dated 'Auguste Bonheur.1862' (lower right)
oil on canvas
77 x 102 in. (195.6 x 259.1 cm.)
Painted in 1862
Paris, Salon 1863, no. 197.
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Post Lot Text
For a note on the artist please see page 72 of the printed catalogue.

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