(b. 1822, Bordeaux, d. 1899, Thomery)

The Horse Fair

Oil on canvas, 245 x 507 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Bonheur’s The Horse Fair, which she painted and exhibited at the Salon in 1853, was purchased by the American millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt for $53,600, a record price at the time. It was a resounding success. She was already known for her use of movement, dramatic lighting, and fresh and direct observation, but few of her works achieved the dash and grandeur of The Horse fair, and none attained the same degree of acclaim.

The Horse Fair was preceded by numerous drawings and at least three painted studies. In arriving at the final scheme, she drew inspiration from the Parthenon frieze, from the noted animal painters Stubbs and Delacroix, and especially from Géricault.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.