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Rosa Bonheur has left such a mark on the chateau of By that one would hardly be surprised to see her strolling in the park with her lioness by her side. Although unjust that this great artist (a well known painter of animals in her time) has been somewhat forgotten, her low profile has allowed this chateau where she lived to remain intact along with some of her paintings, objects that belonged to her, documents, photos, letters and all manner of things that contribute to the legacy of her life. More than a century after her death, a miracle has been accomplished: her studio has become a museum and her house has been classified as a Historical Monument. Better yet, the property hosts festivities just as it did in the past when it welcomed the likes of the Empress Eugenie (who gave Rosa Bonheur the Legion of Honor) artists, intellectuals and her friend Buffalo Bill. The energy and passion needed to bring such a treasure back to life and the desire to share it are a beautiful homage that this exceptional woman would have been very touched by. At present, Patrice Besse supports the development of this property in partnership with VMF through the "Patrice Besse -VMF" prize which is awarded to first time buyers of historic dwellings.
Originally from Fontainebleau, I returned here with the desire to set up a cultural attraction with a focus on art and nature. Proximity to the chateau of Fontainebleau and the forest seemed an obvious necessity for such a project. I was looking for a small 18th century mansion in town, but when I visited the chateau of By, home to Rosa Bonheur for over forty years, I fell in love with this charming place. When I discovered what an illustrious and exceptional woman Rosa Bonheur had been, I could not stop dreaming of bringing this chateau and the memory of such an artist back to life.
This former home to the lords of By is in the middle of a three-hectare park at the edge of the Fontainbleau forest. The chateau of Rosa Bonheur is a unique property unlike any other. The main building was completely renovated in the 18th century, Rosa Bonheur then had a large, neo-Gothic style workshop topped with a belvedere and a terrace built in 1860. Jules Saulnier was the ingenious architect. A second large workshop built at the end of the 19th century and a greenhouse that was contributed by Gustave Eiffel's workshop complete this charming architectural ensemble inspired by nature.
As the chateau of the lords of By before becoming the home of Rosa Bonheur, the chateau welcomed many royals from the end of the 19th century. Musicians, painters and writers all came here to meet the artist of the century who was known throughout the world. Even Buffalo Bill came to the chateau to tame some of Rosa's wild horses. The famous Sioux outfit sits in the window of the study and serves as a souvenir of his visit. After Rosa's death, her sole heir dedicated herself to preserving the workshop as Rosa had left it before she died. Anna's successors - Augusta, her husband and their children, continued the conservation work on the chateau and its collections with the same fervour. Together they have created a unique and timeless place for visitors to explore.
Visiting Rosa Bonheur's chateau is like diving into the 19th century world of a grand mansion where the furniture, paintings, wall hangings and everyday objects have been perfectly preserved. The scent of blossoming roses in the park floats on the air. Privileged visitors experience the artist's history up close as they drift from the small salon to the workshop, the library and the sketch room. Visitors will be astonished by the authenticity of each object that is placed here, they sit as though waiting for the hand of the artist to seize them and carry out their usual routine. Each moment is a unique and moving experience reserved for a lucky few: a tour of the museum led by the owners, "tea time" under the glass roof with crockery from the chateau, a private concert in the workshop or in the pavilion. It is a unique place for events, a place for receiving guests in an authentic setting that is both chic and simplistic with mismatched 19th century crockery and silverware. Receptions worthy of a Proustian novel can be held in the park, the orangery or stables facing the park, or around the pool in the old farmyard.
Thomery is six kilometers from Fontainebleau, about ten kilometers from Barbizon and Moret-sur-Loing, and just a little further from Vaux le Vicomte where visitors can enjoy many cultural activities and attractions. We, however, invite our guests to explore something a little different. Among the thousands of documents we found in the attics, there is a map of the route that Rosa Bonheur walked every day in the forest of Fontainebleau. The forest paths, the rocks where she would sit to observe the nature and fauna and trees under which she would settle to paint are described, listed and drawn on a card carefully preserved in a notebook. Guests can follow them and admire the Fées and the Les Évées ponds. From the chateau, our historian guides visitors among more than two hundred kilometers of Chasselas vineyards and tells them the fascinating story of the famous golden grapes of the kings of France.
The entirety of the castle with twelve rooms, outbuildings and a three-hectare park is available for filming and photo shoots. The furniture is vintage. A 19th century kitchen and two five and six metre artist studios are included in the ensemble.
Conferences about famous women - Colette, George Sand, Marie Currie, Julia Klumpke - along with others about animal artists, sculptors, photographers, writers, poets and engravers.
From May 14th to June 27th, the Château de Rosa Bonheur welcomes the company of Naphralytep for a series of performances around 3 plays. In May, The Fourberies de Scapin, of Molière. In June, Rosa Bonheur and l'Atelier de By, by Barbara Lecompte In June, L'épreuve" of Marivaux
Preparatory works by Rosa Bonheur, her drawings and studies are displayed in the chateau, as photos of Rosa Bonheur and Anna Klumpke.
Guided tours of Rosa Bonheur's workshop take place every day by reservation. Individuals and small groups of up to eight people. Large groups of up to 50 people are divided into subgroups and cover the four themed tours for a total of three hours. Proposed themes: - Tour of the workshop - The pictorial techniques of Rosa Bonheur from her apogee to her decline - History of the chateau, from its construction to its purchase by Rosa Bonheur - Exterior, vegetation, history of the park and its inhabitants
Guided tours of Rosa Bonheur's workshop take place every day by reservation for individuals and small groups of up to eight people: Large groups of up to 50 people are divided into subgroups and cover the four themed tours for a total of three hours. Proposed themes: - Tour of the workshop - The pictorial techniques of Rosa Bonheur from her apogee to her decline - History of the chateau, from its construction to its purchase by Rosa Bonheur - Exterior, vegetation, history of the park and its inhabitants