Isidore Jules Bonheur was born on May 15, 1827, the third child of Raymond Bonheur and brother of Rosa Bonheur the famous sculptor and painter. Like the other members of his family he showed great aptitude for drawing and modeling from an early age and was taught by his father.
Bonheur made his debut at the Salon in 1848 with his African Horseman attacked by a Lion and enrolled in the Salon des Beaux Arts in 1849. He won medals in 1865 and 1869 and won the coveted Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889. he was awarded Legion d'Honneur in 1895. The two lions crouched in stone which flank the stairs of the Palais de Justice in Paris are reminders of the power and realism of Bonheur. He excelled in realistically capturing the attitudes and spontaneous movements of animals and mankind -- a mare caressing her colt, a lion playing with its young, a polo player.
The founder Hippolyte Peyrol, who married Isidore's younger sister Juliette Bonheur, cast the majority of his works and these bronzes are of exceptionally fine quality.
Bonheur's specialization in small figures and animal groups led him to become part of the animal sculptors of the late 19th Century known as 'Les Animaliers.' Although his studies of other animals are of a very high quality he will always be revered for his studies of the horse which capture the quintessential spirit of the animal combined with an almost 'humanised' characteristic.
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