Partner Rosa Bonheur, buried together

Queer Places:
Académie Julian, Passage des Panoramas, Paris, Francia
Neptune Society Columbarium, 1 Loraine Ct, San Francisco, CA 94118, Stati Uniti
Père Lachaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, Francia

Anna Elizabeth Klumpke[1] (October 28, 1856 – February 9, 1942), was an American portrait and genre painter born in San Francisco, California, United States. She is perhaps best known for her portraits of famous women including Rosa Bonheur and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1889).[2]

Lilian Whiting, Kate Field's partner, wrote Klumpke's biography. Whiting was a journalist, poet, and figure of some literary repute in Boston. She knew many women in female marriages or involved in extramarital affairs with women, including Rosa Bonheur, Anna Klumpke, Harriet Hosmer, and Emma Crow Cushman. Whiting’s biography of Anna Klumpke gave a remarkably explicit account of how Rosa Bonheur proposed that Klumpke become her second spouse. Elsewhere Whiting noted that Bonheur left her estate to Klumpke and called Klumpke’s biography of Bonheur “the most intimate” work ever written about the artist.

Anna's father, John Gerald Klumpke, born in England[3] or Germany,[4] was a successful and wealthy realtor in San Francisco. Her mother was Dorothea Mattilda Tolle. Anna was the eldest of eight children, five of whom lived to maturity. Among her siblings were the astronomer Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts, the violinist Julia Klumpke, and the neurologist Augusta Déjerine-Klumpke. At age three, Anna fell and suffered a fracture of her femur. She fell again at age five and suffered osteomyelitis with purulent knee arthritis. These problems handicapped her, and her mother went to extraordinary lengths to find a remedy by taking Anna and three of her siblings to Berlin for treatment by Dr. Bernhard von Langenbeck.

The treatment lasted 18 months and included thermal baths at Kreuznach. Unfortunately, it was not successful, and Anna remained hobbled all her life. While they were in Europe, her mother ensured that her children received excellent tutoring.

The time away in Europe strained the Klumpkes' relationship. When Anna was fifteen, her parents divorced. She and her siblings (now numbering five) moved with their mother to Göttingen, Germany, where they lived for a time with Mattilda's sister, who had married a German national. Anna and her sister Augusta were sent to school at Cannstatt, near Stuttgart. When she was seventeen, the family moved to Clarens, near Lake Geneva in Switzerland where she spent two years in a boarding school.

Anna studied art at home for the next few years, and in October 1877, moved with her family once more to Paris, where she was later enrolled in the Julian Academy (1883–1884), under the tutelage of Tony Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre. She spent many an hour copying paintings in the Musée du Luxembourg, including Rosa Bonheur's ''Ploughing in the Nivernais''.[5] [6] At one point, she also studied under Vuillefroy. She presented her first work at the Paris Salon in 1884, while still at the Academy, and she won the grand prize for outstanding student of the year. She exhibited regularly at the Salon for several more years. After completing her studies, she returned to the United States for a few years and taught in Boston. However, by 1889, she was back in Paris.

As a girl, Anna had been given a "Rosa" doll, styled after the French animal painter Rosa Bonheur—so famous at the time that dolls were made in her image. From early childhood, Anna had been fascinated and inspired by the woman artist.[7]

Intent on painting Bonheur's portrait, she met Rosa Bonheur on October 15, 1889, under the pretext of being the interpreter for a horse dealer. The two women were soon living together at Bonheur's estate in Thomery, near Fontainebleau, and their relationship endured until Bonheur's death in 1899.

When Rosa Bonheur asked Anna Klumpke to live with her, she first warmly declared her love, then wrote to Klumpke’s mother explaining their decision to “unite [their] existence” and assuring her that Bonheur would “arrange before a lawyer a situation where she [Anna] will be considered as in her own home.”

Klumpke was named as the sole heir to Bonheur's estate and oversaw the sale of Bonheur's collected works in 1900. Bonheur’s will explained that she was leaving all her assets to Klumpke because she had asked her “to stay with me and share my life,” and had therefore “decided to compensate her and protect her interests since she, in order to live with me, sacrificed the position she had already made for herself and shared the costs of maintaining and improving my house and estate.”

Klumpke founded the Rosa Bonheur Prize at the Société des Artistes Français and organized the Rosa Bonheur museum at the Fontainebleau palace.

Klumpke was a meticulous diarist, publishing in 1908 a biography of Bonheur, ''Sa Vie Son Oeuvre'', based on her own diary and Bonheur's letters, sketches and other writings. In the book, which was not published in English until 1998, Klumpke told the story of Bonheur's life and related how she had met Bonheur, how they had fallen in love, and how she had become the artist's official portraitist and companion.

Following Bonheur's death, Klumpke divided her time between France, Boston, and San Francisco, finally settling in San Francisco in the 1930s. During World War I, with her mother, she established a military convalescent hospital at her home in Thomery.

The Neptune Society Columbarium, San Francisco, CA

In 1940, at the age of 84, Klumpke published her own autobiography ''Memoirs of an Artist''. She died in 1942 at the age of 86 years in her native San Francisco. A memorial to her is at Neptune Society Columbarium, San Francisco, and she is buried alongside Rosa Bonheur at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Anna Klumpke was primarily a genre painter, often painting pastoral scenes featuring static figures, usually female. Her painting, ''Catinou Knitting,'' was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1887. This sentimental image proved highly popular in reproduction and is still sold in hand-painted copies.

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