BONHEUR, Isidore Jules
(b. 1827, Bordeaux, d. 1901, Paris)


French sculptor and painter, known as one of the most distinguished 19th-century French animalier sculptors. He began his career as an artist working with his elder sister Rosa Bonheur in the studio of their father, drawing instructor Raymond Bonheur. Initially working as a painter, Isidore Jules Bonheur made his Salon debut in 1848.

In Bordeaux his father had been friends with Francisco Goya who was living there in exile. In 1828 Bonheur moved to Paris with his mother and brothers and sister, his father having gone ahead of them to establish a residence and income.

Isidore-Jules studied painting at first, enrolling in 1849 at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, though he made his debut at the Salon (Paris) in 1848 with a plaster and exhibited regularly until 1899. He won medals in 1859, 1865, 1869, took part in the Exposition Universelle (1855), exhibited in London at the Royal Academy of Arts in the 1870s, where he gained great success with equine figures and groups, and won the coveted Médaille d'Or (gold medal) with a sculpture entitled Cavalier Louis XV at the Exposition Universelle (1889). He won a silver medal at l'Exposition de Madrid in 1892, a gold medal at the Exposition Internationale d'Anvers (1894).

Also in 1894, Bonheur was awarded the status of Knight in the Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa, Portugal. In 1895 he was named Knight of the Order of Isabella the Catholic, Spain. He was named Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1895 in Paris.

Isidore Bonheur found a greater market for his work in the mid-nineteenth century in England. In 1870 he gained representation at the Royal Academy and produced a variety of work that catered to English collectors.

Many of his bronzes were edited by the founder Hippolyte Peyrol, his uncle by marriage. The Peyrol casts for both Rosa and Isidore Bonheur are exceptionally well executed, which suggests a strong working relationship between the founder and sculptor. Among his most renowned works are the depictions of horses.

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