Rosa Bonheur, ‘A tiger resting on a ledge’, Christie's Old Masters

This vivid watercolor of a tiger resting on a ledge had a traditional attribution to Eugène Delacroix until it was convincingly re-attributed to Rosa Bonheur by Louis-Antoine Prat (op. cit.) who connected it and another watercolor to a painting of the same subject and similar composition by the female artist. Prat's attribution to Bonheur is based upon several factors: first, the fake Delacroix studio stamp at the lower left of the sheet; second, the appearance of another watercolor of nearly identical composition (and also bearing a fake Delacroix collector's mark), despite the fact that Delacroix never repeated his watercolor compositions; third, the appearance at auction in Paris in 2001 of an oil sketch of two resting tigers -- one in an almost identical pose to the one in the present sheet -- bearing the studio stamp of Bonheur (Prat, op. cit., fig. 3).

Rosa Bonheur came from a family of artists and achieved great success in her lifetime for her work as a painter of animals. Prevented from studying at the Académie because of her sex, she learned anatomy by copying sketchbooks, visiting slaughterhouses and performing dissections of animals at the École nationale vétérinaire d'Alfort on the outskirts of Paris. She often repeated her studies in her paintings. The present watercolor does display her typical stylistic characteristics as described by Prat - an almost portrait-like presentation of the animal who is depicted in a slightly elongated, languid pose.

Paris, l'Orangerie, De Clouet à Matisse, dessins français des collections américaines, 1958-9, no. 119 (as Delacroix).
Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Eugène Delacroix - Themen und Variationen - Arbeiten auf Papier, 1987-8, no. I.19 (as Delacroix).

W. Friedlaender, De David à Delacroix, ed. Cambridge, Mass., 1952, pl. 77 (as Delacroix).

L.-A. Prat, 'Eugène Delacroix; un peu de Bonheur...', Revue de l'art, no. 136, 2002, pp. 67-69 (as Bonheur).

with a fake Delacroix studio stamp (not in Lugt).

J.E. Caldwell, Philadelphia.

with Wildenstein, New York, 1949.

Mrs. Richard S. David, Minneapolis.

About Rosa Bonheur