Bonheur constructed a park to house a stag named Jacques, whom she kept as a pet and model.
This drawing was among many representing stags that were discovered in Rosa Bonheur’s studio after her death. One of the few women of her time who was given the support needed for an artistic career, Bonheur became famous during her lifetime for naturalistic portrayals of animals. Daily carriage rides through the forest around her home enabled her to sketch from nature. One such outing inspired Cleveland’s drawing: Bonheur’s companion recalled “a stag . . . with the sun playing on him through the leaves . . . [who] remained perfectly still.” Watercolor was ideal for such improvisatory studies, allowing Bonheur to work outdoors alongside the subjects she treasured.
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