Rosa Bonheur

Robyn Montana Turner, Author Little Brown and Company $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-85648-5
The scant presence of women in the annals of art history prompts this glossy Portraits of Women Artists for Children series. Bonheur's (1822-1899) remarkably happy life story is told in straightforward fashion; especially winning are the matter-of-fact treatment of her lifelong friendship with another woman and the author's feeling for the delight the artist took in animals, which Turner poses as another challenge to the female stereotype. But a pedogogical tone prevails in both biographies, and Turner's message--that girls can grow up to be artists--is undermined by her groping efforts to explain what makes a painting great. The cause of art history is ill served by badly reproduced images in the Bonheur volume. O'Keeffe's (1887-1986) work is eminently reproducible, therefore showing that artist to better advantage, and she is characterized more vividly than is Bonheur, but both lives pale in these dutiful retellings. By failing to isolate and illumine the creative spark that drove each artist, Turner misses the salient point for young readers: O'Keeffe and Bonheur are important not because they were women who made it in a man's world, but because they painted brilliantly. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-316-85653-9
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