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Anna Klumpke

 (1856 - 1942)
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke was active/lived in Massachusetts, California / France.  Anna Klumpke is known for portrait, figure, genre and landscape painting.

Anna Klumpke

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Anna Klumpke
Born in San Francisco in 1856, Anna became enamored by the celebrated French animal painter Rosa Bonheur, a giant among woman painters.  Anna's mother arranged for her to study in Switzerland, then the family moved to Paris.  There she and her sisters often sat around a large table, focused on sewing while one of her sisters would read aloud.  Anna executed a copy of Rosa Bonheur's Plowing in Nivernais in the Musée du Luxembourg, which became for her a talisman. 

In 1882 she entered the Académie Julian to study under Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Tony Robert-Fleury.  Right away, Klumpke's works were accepted in the Paris Salon, beginning with An Eccentric in 1882.  By 1885 she received an Honorable Mention for a portrait and three years later, a medal at the Julian Academy.  In 1886, Klumpke visited Italy. Two years later she painted In the Wash House, signed and dated "Paris 1888," which is in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy.  It won the Academy's Temple Gold Medal. When exhibited at the Paris Salon, the painting was noticed by Sara Hallowell, the representative from the Art Institute of Chicago (instrumental in introducing French impressionism to the Midwest), who saw to it that the work was exhibited in the Windy City as well.

Klumpke won a bronze medal for a portrait of a fashionable society lady at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 (no. 185).  She met Bonheur that year at the painter's château.  The two kept up a lively correspondence after Klumpke returned for a while to Boston.  She even went out of her way to gather samples of fresh sagebrush, which she shipped to Bonheur, to be used for her painting Wild Horses Fleeing from a Prairie Fire.  Also in 1889 she painted the fine portrait of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (National Portrait Gallery).  In 1891 Klumpke exhibited The Dream in the Paris Salon in 1891.  A year later this work became part of a one-woman show at the St. Botolph Club in Boston, one of thirty-eight oils and pastels.  Following the show, six oils were sold and the artist received several commissions. 

Boston reviewers were impressed by Klumpke's Parisian training.  One praised her for her "fine perception of people and things."  But the same critic found The Dream to be lacking in dramatic feeling, despite the excellent craftsmanship.  On the other hand, the demanding jury in Paris had accepted the painting.  In the Boston Evening Transcript (16 Jan. 1892) a critic stated that the portrait of the artist's mother could "hardly be too highly commended." One such portrait, dated 1889, is now in the Catherine A. Mueller Collection.

Klumpke's Portrait of Miss M.D. was on view at the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and in 1904 at the St. Louis Universal Exposition, Klumpke exhibited a Portrait of Rosa Bonheur and Maternal Affection. The latter may have been Maternal Instruction, painted in 1891, a delightful plein air mother and child scene, now in the New Hampshire Historical Society.

Later in 1898 Klumpke requested to execute Rosa Bonheur's portrait, which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Klumpke moved in with Bonheur that year, and upon the older painter's death (1899), inherited her estate, including a château, where she remained for the next thirty years.  Bonheur's oeuvre was sold by Galerie Georges Petit in 1900.  She worked on a biography in French of Bonheur (published in 1908) and opened the château during the war years to be used as a hospital.  Nearby, also working in the war-relief effort was Sara Hallowell, her old agent in Chicago.

After the war, Klumpke continued to be successful. Klumpke received the cross of the Legion of Honor in 1936. A year later she exhibited Solitude and Monterey Cypress in California at the Paris Salon.  She moved back to San Francisco where she was nominated one of California's most distinguished women artists in 1940, the year in which she published her memoirs. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has two of her late works: The Breeze from 1910 and The Artist's Father (1912).  Klumpke died in 1942.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.
Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, Memoirs of an Artist. Boston: 1940; Eleanor Tufts, American Women Artists 1830-1930. Washington, DC: National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1987, cat. nos. 13, 47; Britta C. Dwyer, Anna Klumpke: A Turn-of-the-Century Painter and Her World. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999; Erica Hirshler, A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists in Boston. Boston Museum, 2001.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Anna Klumpke
Born in San Francisco, California on Augurst 22, 1856, Anna Klumpke, as a very small girl was given a "Rosa" doll, named for the French animal painter Rosa Bonheur who was so famous in the 19th century that dolls were made in her image.  From early childhood Anna was fascinated with the career of Bonheur.

Anna's mother left her husband and moved with Anna to Europe where the latter studied in Paris under Lefebvre and Robert-Fleury at Académie Julian (1883-84). While at the academy she won the grand prize for outstanding student of the year, and her portrait of her mother was favorably received at the Paris Salon.  She returned to the U.S. and taught in Boston for a few years.

In 1898 she obtained an interview with Bonheur for the purpose of painting her portrait. Klumpke lived with Bonheur until her death the following year and was the inheritor of her estate.  The ensuing years were divided between France, Boston, and San Francisco.

After returning to San Francisco in the 1930s, she exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition, and on September 18, 1940 at Treasure Island she was nominated by popular vote as one of California's most distinguished women artists.

She authored the biography Rosa Bonheur, "sa vie son oeuvre" as well as her autobiography entitled Memoirs of an Artist (Wright and Potter Printing Company, Boston, 1940).

Klumpke died in San Francisco on February 9, 1942.

Memberships included the San Francisco Art Association, American Federation of Arts, and Society of Western Artists.

Paris Salon, 1885, 1887, 1901
Versailles, 1886 (silver medal)
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1889 (gold medal)
Unity Art Club (Boston), 1892
Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St Louis), 1904 (medal);
San Francisco Museum of Art 1939 (solo).

California Palace of the Legion of Honor
Luxembourg Museum (Paris)
Fontainebleau Palace
De Young Museum
University of Chicago
Metropolitan Museum (Bonheur portrait)
Smithsonian Institution

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
American Art Annual 1907-33; Who's Who in American Art 1936-41; Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Memoirs of An Artist.

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Anna Klumpke
Born in San Francisco, Anna Klumpke became well known for her portraiture.  Many of her paintings are large size and show figures against elaborate backgrounds.  She
was educated in Germany and then for eight years, 1880 to 1888, studied intermittently in Paris at the Académie Julian* where her teachers included Tony Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre.  

She was there only a few years after the Académie began admitting women, and beginning 1882, exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon*, winning honorable mention in 1885.  A painting, Catinou Knitting, 55 X 69, was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1887, and is considered a testimony to her skill with color and form.

In 1891, she set up a studio for portrait painting in Boston, and then in 1898 returned to France to do a portrait of Rosa Bonheur, famous French painter of animals whom Klumpke had long admired.  Bonheur became her friend and companion and the women lived together for one year at Chateau de By, Bonheur's home near Fontainebleau. 

In 1899, Bonheur died, and Klumpke inherited her home and studio, and from that time dedicated herself to promoting the legacy of Bonheur.  She founded and then taught at the Rosa Bonheur Memorial Art School, and in 1908, published the book, Rosa Bonheur, Her Life, Her Work. 

The ensuing years were spent between France, Boston, and San Francisco, where she settled in the 1930s until her death in 1942.  Two years earlier, Anna Klumpke's reminiscences were  published in the book Memoirs of an Artist.

Sources include:
Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Artists
H. Barbara Weinberg, "American Women Painters in Paris 1860-1900", Fine Art Connoisseur, October 2006

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Anna Klumpke

Born:  1856 - San Francisco, California
Died:   1942 - San Francisco, California
Known for:  portrait, figure, genre and landscape painting