Ploughing in Nivernais, 1849 (oil on canvas), Bonheur, Rosa (1822-99) / Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France / Giraudon / The Bridgeman Art Library
Animal lover Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899) was the most famous female painter of her time. Initially a dressmaker, Bonheur learned about art from her father, a landscape painter. Bonheur heroically depicted working animals with great sympathy and accuracy, creating paintings from many preparatory sketches. The police granted her a permit to dress in men’s clothing so she could study animal anatomy at butcher shops and slaughterhouses. Bonheur achieved international fame with her acclaimed work, “The Horse Fair,” which is displayed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum.