Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)
Rosa Bonheur was one of the most famous animal painters of the 19th century. In an era when pursuing a serious career as an artist was very difficult for women, she achieved international fame, won the highest artistic and government awards, and was the first woman to be made Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1865. Animals were her passion. She carefully observed nature, often visiting horse fairs and slaughterhouses— dressed in men’s clothing for comfort, a habit she continued for the rest of her life, and created numerous studies before executing finished paintings. Bonheur’s Studies of a Horse and Rider demonstrates her accurate rendering of the horses’ powerful musculature, and may be related to her famous Horse Fair (1883).