Return from the Horse Fair

Return from the Horse Fair


Rosa Bonheur

(French, 1822-1899)

Watercolor and gouache over graphite

Support: Beige wove paper, laid down on cardboard

Sheet: 25.9 x 56.7 cm (10 3/16 x 22 5/16 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.410



Rosa Bonheur was the first woman artist to receive the Cross of the French Legion of Honor, a French civilian and military decoration. She achieved great official and commercial success, especially for her carefully finished and naturalistic paintings of animals. This watercolor displays Bonheur's technical mastery and her close study of anatomy, as well as her appreciation for the natural beauty of the horses. The animals are arranged in a shallow frieze across the long composition, and their manicured tails, along with the riders' costumes and the finely-wrought iron fence, identify them as stock from the historic national breeding stables.

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