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Isidore Jules Bonheur

Bronze Sculptor 1827 - 1901

Isidore Jules Bonheur was born on May 15th 1827 in Bordeaux, France. An important Animalier sculptor, Bonheur was the brother of Rosa and the brother-in-law of Hippolyte Peyrol.

Part of a well-known family of painters, artists and sculptors, Isidore Jules Bonheur studied painting under the tutelage of his father at a very early age before moving on to sculptures in 1848. His first entry into the Salon was in that year; a plaster study of an African horseman being attacked by a lion. He continued exhibiting his sculptures throughout the next few years, alternating between the Salon in Paris and the Royal Academy in London.

He won medals at the Salon in 1865 and 1869 and then went on to even greater success, achieving the gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889. He was also awarded the Legion of Honneur in 1895.

He specialised in a wide variety of animal sculptures but he became famous for his bronze sculptures of domestic cattle and sheep, as well as equestrian and hunting groups. In fact, his Le Grand Jockey sculpture is known as one of his finest models and is one of the icons of Animalier sculptures.

Many of his bronze sculptures were done as compliments to his sister’s works and many of the sheep and cattle models were done as pairs by both. Almost all of the sculptures made by both Isidore and Rosa were produced by Hippolyte Peyrol, whose extremely small foundry mark is still often very difficult to locate.

Though he was occasionally overshadowed by his more flamboyant and outspoken sister Rosa, Isidore Bonheur was nevertheless a very successful and highly accomplished sculptor, with his works ranking high amongst the very finest of the French Animalier school. In fact, the Perigueux Museum exhibits a life-size version of his eight point stag.

Even his royal commissions extended beyond France; he was commissioned to produce two monumental Bulls for the Palace of the Sultan in Constantinople as well as works for King Edward VII in England.

Isidore Jules Bonheur sadly passed away in Paris in 1901.