Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Horse Affair

I’m not sure what brought up the topic, but during a conversation I mentioned The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur. Perhaps it was a discussion of art by women or masculine subjects tackled by women artists or masterpieces at the Metropolitan Art Museum. Little did I realize I’d stumbled upon a unique touchpoint.

We were virtual strangers, having just met, so it was a huge coincidence that a single artwork connected us.

It was Christmas 2002 about a year after the Towers fell and New York City was still jittery. Nevertheless, Rockefeller Plaza was all lit up and the sidewalks were packed with tourists and holiday shoppers. My daughter was probably thirteen at the time. I’m sure the last thing she wanted to do was hang out with her parents, or visit a museum. But it had been my dream to see the Met. All sorts of promises were made and incentives offered, yet after an hour both my husband and daughter were done looking at pictures. I, on the other hand, was just getting started. We finally compromised by letting them leave while I stayed.

Heaven. I meandered the galleries to my heart’s content. At one point I remember turning a corner and—there—tucked away was The Horse Fair. A lively rambunctious, ambitious masterpiece by a woman. Rosa Bonheur painted in Paris during a time (mid 1800s) when women were primarily the subject/object and not a creator of art. Rosa certainly took the reins. I was transfixed.

My acquaintance recounted a similar experience. She and her family were in town also over Christmas, her son being about the same age as my daughter. The Met was hers for the day while the others were off exploring. She too was pulled into the frame, spending time studying the swirling circle of horses.

What are the chances that it would be art from over a hundred and fifty years ago from an artist seldom on the top list of must-sees! Marge Malo and I bonded over The Horse Fair. Check out her website where she has a graphic blog.
The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur, 96 1/4 x 199 1/2 in. (244.5 x 506.7 cm)

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