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 Mary Anita Bonner  (1887 - 1935)

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Lived/Active: Texas/Louisiana / France      Known for: etcher, western, landscape, mural

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Ad Code: 3
Mary Anita Bonner
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for her etchings of Texas cowboys and the only noted early 20th-century woman popularizing Texas subjects, Mary Bonner was born in Bastrop, Louisiana but lived most of her life in San Antonio with long periods of time in Paris, France. She learned first hand about Texas cowboys and their lives, and this inspired her artwork, which brought her much acclaim.

She began her formal art training at age sixteen, and her first teacher was Robert Onderdonk. However, she was not totally committed as an artist until 1922 when she began etching, having been advised to do so from an old lithographer. She studied in Munich in 1914 at the beginning of World War I, and was forced to return home, so she enrolled at the Stickney School in Pasadena until 1918. She also went to Woodstock, New York in 1922 and studied with Richard Miller and Bolton Brown, and that summer went to France and became a student of Edouard-Henri Leon, one of France's renowned engraver.

By 1925, she was exhibiting with the foremost French etchers in two salons of the the Society of French Artists. She received an honorable mention, the first woman to receive such an honor and in 1932, won a silver medal. The French were especially intrigued by her etchings of western ranch scenes such as cowboys on bucking broncos. She remained active in San Antonio, and she and Leon had a joint exhibition there in 1927.

Some critics in the United States praised her as the greatest female etcher of this country. She was one of the few San Antonio artists whose work could sell as easily in other parts of the country and in Europe as well as in her own state.

Bonner was active in the San Antonio Art League and maintained studios both in that city and in Paris, France. She donated most of her works to San Antonio's Witte Museum, which also has a plaster bust of her done by Gutzon Borglum.

She died in San Antonio from a blood clot that developed during surgery.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, "Women Artists of the American West"
John and Susan Powers, "Texas Painters, Sculptors and Graphic Artists"

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