Anna Klumpke

Klumpke headshot
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke (1856-1942) was an American portrait and genre painter born in San Francisco where her father was a successful and wealthy realtor. Among her siblings were astronomer Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts, violinist Julia Klumpke, and neurologist Augusta Déjerine-Klumpke. Following falls at age three and five, her mother took Anna to Berlin for medical treatments, which were not successful: Anna remained hobbled all her life. While in Europe, her mother ensured that her children received excellent tutoring. When Anna was fifteen, her parents divorced. She and her siblings moved with their mother to Göttingen. When she was seventeen, the family moved to Switzerland where Anna attended boarding school for two years.

Anna studied art at home, and in 1877 moved with her family to Paris, where she later enrolled in the Académie Julian (1883-1884). She copied paintings in the Musée du Luxembourg, including Rosa Bonheur’s
Ploughing in the Nivernais. She presented her first work at the Paris Salon in 1884, and won the grand prize for outstanding student that year. After completing her studies, she returned to the United States for a few years and taught in Boston. By 1889, she was back in Paris.

Since childhood, Anna had been fascinated by French woman artist Rosa Bonheur. Intent on painting Bonheur’s portrait, she met Rosa Bonheur in 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. Klumpke was named sole heir to Bonheur’s estate and oversaw the sale of Bonheur’s collected works in 1900. She founded the Rosa Bonheur Prize at the Société des Artistes Français and organized the Rosa Bonheur museum at the Fontainebleau palace.

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, she established with her mother a military convalescent hospital at her home in Thomery. In 1940, Klumpke published her autobiography
Memoirs of an Artist. She is buried alongside Rosa Bonheur at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

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