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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Rosa Bonheur

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In preparing to paint the "Horse Fair" and other similar pictures, which have brought her much into the company of men, she has found it wise to dress in male costume. A laughable incident is related of this mode of dress. One day when she returned from the country, she found a messenger awaiting to announce to her the sudden illness of one of her young friends. Rosa did not wait to change her male attire, but hastened to the bedside of the young lady. In a few minutes after her arrival, the doctor, who had been sent for, entered, and seeing a young man, as he supposed, seated on the side of the bed, with his arm round the neck of the sick girl, thought he was an intruder, and retreated with all possible speed. "Oh! run after him! He thinks you are my lover, and has gone and left me to die!" cried the sick girl. Rosa flew down stairs, and soon returned with the modest doctor.

She also needs this mannish costume, for her long journeys over the Pyrenees into Spain or in the Scottish Highlands. She is always accompanied by her most intimate friend, Mademoiselle Micas, herself an artist of repute, whose mother, a widow, superintends the home for the two devoted friends.

Sometimes in the Pyrenees these two ladies see no one for six weeks but muleteers with their mules. The people in these lonely mountain passes live entirely upon the curdled milk of sheep. Once Rosa Bonheur and her friend were nearly starving, when Mademoiselle Micas obtained a quantity of frogs, and covering the hind legs with leaves, roasted them over a fire. On these they lived for two days.

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In Scotland she painted her exquisite "Denizens of the Mountains," "Morning in the Highlands," and "Crossing a Loch in the Highlands." In England she was treated like a princess. Sir Edwin Landseer, whom some persons thought she would marry, is reported to have said, when he first looked upon her "Horse Fair," "It surpasses me, though it's a little hard to be beaten by a woman." On her return to France she brought a skye-terrier, named "Wasp," of which she is very fond, and for which she has learned several English phrases. When she speaks to him in English, he wags his tail most appreciatively.

Rosa Bonheur stands at the head of her profession, an acknowledged master. Her pictures bring enormous sums, and have brought her wealth. A "View in the Pyrenees" has been sold for ten thousand dollars, and some others for twice that sum.

She gives away much of her income. She has been known to send to the Mont de Piete her gold medals to raise funds to assist poor artists. A woman artist, who had been refused help by several wealthy painters, applied to Rosa Bonheur, who at once took down from the wall a small but valuable painting, and gave it to her, from which she received a goodly sum. A young sculptor who greatly admired her work, enclosed twenty dollars, asking her for a small drawing, and saying that this was all the money he possessed. She immediately sent him a sketch worth at least two hundred dollars. She has always provided most generously for her family, and for servants who have grown old in her employ.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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