Jeanne Damidau

  • Biography

    Mary Bonner (1887-1935)

    (Polly) San Antonio, Dallas. Graphic artist, painter, muralist, illustrator, sculptor, teacher. Born and reared at Bayou Bartholomew Plantation, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, Bonner moved to San Antonio in 1897 with her widowed mother. Her first teacher was Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. Spending summers on a family ranch near Sabinal in Uvalde County, she graduated from the San Antonio Academy in 1904 and attended the University of Texas until 1906 when she left to attend a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland. She remained in the school for about eighteen months. Little is know of her life for the next few years except that she was studying in Munich in 1914 when World War I began, forcing her return to the United States. She continued her studies at the Stickney Memorial School, Pasadena, California, until 1918. With her sister, Emma Bonner, she studied in Woodstock, New York (1922), under Richard Miller and Bolton Brown. IN the autumn of that year, Bonner traveled to Paris to study etching. She received instruction in the summers (1922-1928) from Edouard-Henri Leon while spending winters in San Antonio. Bonner's work first attracted public attention in 1925 at the Salon d;Automne and the Paris Salon, where she received honorable mention. In 1926 she received a bronze medal in the Paris Salon, a silver medal in the 1929 Salon, and in the same year the violet ribbon of the Ordre des Palmes Academique, Officier d'Academie. French critics were particularly taken with her etchings of "cowboys," bulls, and bucking broncos, pictures that a French critic labeled " The first original motif of design since the Italian Renaissance. " Bonner and Leon exhibited jointly in Houston in 1927 and sojourned in San Antonio where they sketched among the missions and surrounding areas. In 1929 Bonner began to exhibit and take an active part in the San Antonio Art league while continuing to maintain a studio in Paris and another at her San Antonio residence, designed in 1909 by Atlee B. Ayres. She donated many of her works to the Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio. Bonner died in San Antonio of a blood clot following surgery. The Witte Museum possesses a plaster bust of Bonner created by Gutzon Borglum. Her serious blue eyes with their ability to see and understand the picturesqueness of life, are closed. Her long, beautifully tapered fingers have ceased their work. But behind her she has left a wealth of material that will keep her memory alive. The artist is no more. But the spirit of Mary Bonner, calm and serene on the surface, but seething with life and energy within, still lives in the great artistic works she has left, which brought her, during her lifetime, world-renown. {Wright]  Exhibitions: Salon des Artistes Francais, Paris (1923-31) Salon d'Automne, Paris (1925) Paris Salon (1925, 1926 medal, 1929 medal) Simonson's Gallery, Paris (1926 one-woman) Little Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio (1926 one-woman) Southern States Art League Annual Exhibition (1927, 1930-32) Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1927 with Edouard-Henri Leon, 1927 one-woman, 1929 one-woman Elisabet Ney Museum, Austin (1928 one-woman) Palmes Academique, Paris (1929) Annual Texas Artists Circuit exhibition (1929, 1932-33) Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, Denver (1930) San Pedro Playhouse, San Antonio (1931 one-woman) Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1932 one-woman) Fort Worth Museum of Art (1932 one-woman) Annual Texas artists Exhibition, Fort Worth (1933) San Antonio Local Artists Annual Exhibition (1933-34) Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio (1936 and 1952 retrospectives) Texas Seen/Texas Made, San Antonio Museum of Art (1986) Painter of Texas 1900-1950, Museums of Abilene (1989) Women Artists of Texas 1850-1950, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon (1993) Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945, Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles (1995) Brooklyn Society of Etchers, National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors: Philadelphia Print Club. Murals: San Antonio Public Library (journey of the Canary Islanders to San Antonio). Collections: Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin Brownsville Art League Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Stark Museum of Art, Orange: Trinity University, San Antonio, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum and Witte Museum, San Antonio: San Antonio Art League: San Antonio Museum of Art: New York Public Library: British Museum, London: Museum of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: City of Paris.