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Art is a Tyrant


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A new biography of the wildly unconventional 19th-century animal painter and gender equality pioneer Rosa Bonheur

About the Author

Catherine Hewitt studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her previous books with Icon are The Mistress of Paris (2015), 'an enthralling story, told with both conviction and sympathy' (Observer), and Renoir's Dancer (2017), described as 'fascinating' by France magazine.


[A] diligently researched, beautifully produced and insistently sympathetic biography. -- Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
[A] lively biography of groundbreaking French painter Rosa Bonheur ... Art is a Tyrant is an impressive achievement, situating Bonheur's artistic achievement in the historical context of the Second Empire and Third Republic, and the artistic context of realism. * Spiked *
Enthralling ... this biography, written every bit as compellingly as the best of novels, with a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, tells a story just as fantastical. * Art Quarterly *
Art is a Tyrant recounts [Bonheur's] life with no little brio. -- Michael Prodger * The Times, Books of the Year, 2020 *
In Hewitt's third commanding biography of an overlooked French woman ... she recounts with enriching detail and narrative drive Bonheur's absolute dedication to her work and her independence, vividly establishing the tumultuous social and political contexts in which Bonheur overcame entrenched misogyny and negative views of lesbianism. ... Hewitt's rousing biography will propel a resurgence of appreciation for Bonheur and her achievements. * Booklist, starred review *

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