This, Bonheur’s best-known painting, shows the horse market held in Paris on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, which is visible in the left background. For a year and a half Bonheur sketched there twice a week, dressing as a man to discourage attention. Bonheur was well established as an animal painter when the painting debuted at the Paris Salon of 1853, where it received wide praise. In arriving at the final scheme, the artist drew inspiration from George Stubbs, Théodore Gericault, Eugène Delacroix, and ancient Greek sculpture: she referred to The Horse Fair as her own "Parthenon frieze."
This, Bonheur’s best-known painting, shows the horse market held in Paris on the tree-lined Boulevard de l’Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière, which is visible in the left background. For a year and a half Bonheur sketched there twice a week, having obtained permission from the police to dress as a man to discourage attention (Davies 1970). Her choice of massive draft horses—Percherons—rather than saddle horses, depicted at the moment of turning before they stride back up the boulevard, imparts thunderous movement and energy to the scene. An early inspiration for the picture came when Bonheur "happen[ed] to think about the Parthenon friezes while in a crowd of horse dealers trying out their beasts" (Klumpke 1908). In arriving at the final scheme, Bonheur also drew from the precedents of George Stubbs, Théodore Gericault, and Eugène Delacroix. Bonheur was well established as an animal painter when the canvas debuted at the Paris Salon of 1853, where it was generally praised.
At the invitation of Charles de Morny, the Minister of the Interior who oversaw the Division of Fine Arts, Bonheur presented studies for The Horse Fair and another projected picture, Haymaking in the Auvergne (1855; Musée National du Château, Fontainebleau), in the hope of securing an official commission. Asserting that she was too inexperienced in painting horses to carry out the present scene successfully, Morny selected Haymaking, which depicts peasants loading a haycart pulled by oxen. Following the success of The Horse Fair, however, Charles-Philippe de Chennevières, Inspector-General of Fine Arts and chief administrator of the annual Salon, made an attempt to substitute our picture for the other; his offer was refused. (On the foregoing see Klumpke 1908.)
Upon the close of the Salon The Horse Fair traveled to Ghent, and in 1854 it was shown in Bordeaux. When the city of Bordeaux declined to purchase it, Bonheur accepted an offer from the British dealer Ernest Gambart (it was immediately afterward that Chennevières made the offer recounted above). Before the sale Bonheur responded to a perceived lack of finish from some quarters (e.g., Clément de Ris 1853 and de la Madelène 1853) by retouching the ground, trees, and sky: this is thought to explain the curious date inscription, "1853.5," which likely indicates that the artist returned to the painting in 1855 (Sterling and Salinger 1966). In the French press, the sale to England was lamented as a national loss (de la Forge 1856). In 1855, the painting embarked on a two-year tour of Great Britain, including a private viewing at Buckingham Palace at the request of Queen Victoria (Lambourne 1999; cf Roger-Milès 1900).
Gambart sold The Horse Fair to the New Jersey collector William P. Wright in 1857, and in 1866 the latter sold it to the New York department store magnate Alexander T. Stewart (who also owned Ernest Meissonier’s 1807, Friedland, 87.20.1). In 1887, when the painting was offered at the estate sale of Stewart’s widow, the railroad millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt secured it as a gift to The Met. At the time it was one of the most celebrated works of contemporary art in the world, its popularity spurred not only by its wide-ranging display, but by the dissemination of reproductions (see Notes; for one of these reproductions’ formative influence on the American painter Wayne Thiebaud, see http://artistproject.metmuseum.org/4/wayne-thiebaud/).
During a period when female painters were not uncommon, Bonheur stood out owing to a lack of perceptible femininity in her work. One anonymous writer described The Horse Fair as "a wonderful work for any painter; but as the production of a female it is marvellous [sic] in conception and execution" (Art-Journal, August 1, 1855). Another critic, noting that the artist was present at a reception following the installation of the painting at London’s Pall Mall Gallery on July 17, 1855, remarked with wonder that "so masculine a work is the production of a feminine hand" (Times, July 18, 1855).
[Asher Ethan Miller 2016]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Rosa Bonheur 1853.5
[Ernest Gambart, London, 1855–57; bought from the artist for Fr 40,000; sold for Fr 30,000 to Wright]; William P. Wright, Weehawken, N.J. (1857–66; sold to Stewart); Alexander T. Stewart, New York (1866–d. 1876); his widow, Cornelia M. Stewart, New York (1876–d. 1886; her estate sale, American Art Association, New York, March 23–28ff., 1887, no. 217, for $53,000 to Samuel P. Avery for Vanderbilt); Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York (1887)
Paris. Salon. May 15–?, 1853, no. 134 (as "Marché aux chevaux de Paris").
Ghent. Palais de l'Université. "Exposition nationale et triennale," August 21–?, 1853, no. 29 [see Art-Journal 1853 and Sterling and Salinger 1966].
Bordeaux. Galerie de la société des amis des arts. "Salon des amis des arts de Bordeaux [5ème exposition]," November 12–?, 1854, no. 78 [see Sterling and Salinger 1966].
London. Pall Mall Gallery. "Second Annual Exhibition of the French School of Fine Arts," July 17–September 5, 1855, no. 24 [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
Glasgow. location unknown. "French School of Fine Arts," after September 5, 1855–before February 1856, no catalogue? [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
Liverpool. location unknown. "French School of Fine Arts," February 1856, no catalogue? [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
Manchester. Royal Institution. "French School of Fine Arts," April 1–?, 1856, no. 27 [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
Birmingham. Everitt and Hill's Gallery. "French School of Fine Arts," by August 13, 1856, no catalogue? [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
Sheffield. James Gilbert. "French School of Fine Arts," March 15–April 4, 1857, no catalogue? [see Klumpke 1908, Sterling and Salinger 1966, Maas 1975].
London. German Gallery. August 1857, no catalogue [see Art-Journal 1857 and Maas 1975].
New York. Williams, Stevens and Williams Gallery. October 2, 1857–January 2, 1858, no catalogue [see New York Times 1857 and Ashton 1981].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 64.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 4–November 23, 1947, unnumbered cat.
Iowa City. State University of Iowa, School of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 9–March 31, 1948, unnumbered cat.
Bloomington. Indiana University. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–May 16, 1948, no catalogue.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "The Past Rediscovered: French Painting, 1800–1900," July 3–September 7, 1969, no. 4.
Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts. "Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899)," May 24–August 31, 1997, no. 12.
L[ouis]. Clément de Ris. "Salon de 1853: Lettres à un ami, à Bruxelles. II, Les Paysagistes." L'Artiste, 5th ser., 10 (June 15, 1853), pp. 148–49, compares it unfavorably with Troyon and criticizes its summary treatment; observes the influence of Gericault's lithographs.
Édouard Houssaye. "Gravures du numéro." L'Artiste, 5th ser., 11 (August 15, 1853), p. 32, ill. opp. p. 32 (engraving by Veyrassat).
"Art in Continental States." Art-Journal (October 1, 1853), p. 262.
Frederic Henriet. Coup d'oeil sur le Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853, p. 18 [see Refs. Sterling and Salinger 1966, Watson 1983].
Horsin Déon. Rapport sur le Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853, pp. 12–13.
Henry de la Madelène. Le Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853, pp. 55–56 [see Ref. Sterling and Salinger 1966], states that it needs varnishing and seems unfinished in parts.
Claude Vignon. Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853, pp. 115–16, compares it to Gericault.
Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. July 10, 1853 [published in Michèle Hannoosh, ed., "Eugène Delacroix: Journal," Paris, 2009, vol. 1, p. 678], in a discussion of customs surrounding the distribution of medals at the Salon, states in reference to this painting that Bonheur "a fait cette année un effort supérieur à tous ceux des années précédentes," but laments "vous êtes réduit à l'encourager de la voix et du geste".
"Minor Topics of the Month." Art-Journal (August 1, 1855), p. 243, calls it "a wonderful work for any painter; but as the production of a female it is marvellous [sic] in conception and execution".
"French Exhibition." Times (July 18, 1855), p. 11, notes that this work was hung on July 17, 1855 in the Pall Mall Gallery, followed by a reception for the artist; remarks with wonder that "so masculine a work is the production of a feminine hand".
"French Gallery, Pall Mall." Morning Post (July 18, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 43–45].
"Rosa Bonheur's 'Horse Fair at Paris'." Daily News (July 19, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 45–47].
"Fine Arts Department." Illustrated London News (July 21, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 47–48].
"French School of the Fine Arts—Mdlle. Rosa Bonheur." Atlas (July 21, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, p. 48].
"French Exhibition of Painters, Pall Mall." Press (July 21, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 48–49].
"Madame de Bonheur's Conversazione." Morning Advertiser (July 23, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 49–50].
Guardian (July 25, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 50–51].
Daily News (July 26, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 51–54].
Court Journal (July 28, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 54–55].
"The Horse Fair." Sunday Times (July 29, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, p. 55].
"Fine-Art Gossip." Athenæum (August 4, 1855), pp. 905–6.
"Art and Artists: Rosa Bonheur." Critic 14 (August 1, 1855), p. 372.
"'The Horse Fair' in Paris." Examiner (August 11, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 59–61].
"The Exhibition of French Paintings, Pall Mall." Lady's Newspaper and Pictorial Times (August 11, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 61–62].
"The French Exhibition." Spectator (August 4, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, p. 62].
"Rosa Bonheur's 'Horse Fair'." Observer (August 19, 1855) [reprinted in Ref. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais 1857, pp. 62–64].
"Art in Continental States." Art-Journal (June 1, 1855), p. 193, notes that this work has been sold for Fr 40,000.
"Minor Topics of the Month." Art-Journal (April 1, 1856), p. 126, notes that it is presently on exhibit at the Royal Institution, Manchester "under the care of Messrs. Agnew & Son".
Anatole de la Forge. La Peinture contemporaine en France. Paris, 1856, pp. 334–35, laments its sale to England as a loss for the national art collections.
"Affairs in France." New York Daily Times (August 16, 1856), p. 2, reports that it was purchased in 1853 "by a Dutchman, who afterwards took it to England, where, it is said, he has realized eighty thousand dollars by its exhibition!".
"Minor Topics of the Month." Art-Journal (August 1, 1857), p. 262, notes that it is presently exhibited on Bond Street [at the German Gallery] along with the reduced copy painted by Bonheur for Thomas Landseer's use when making the engraving.
F. Lepelle de Bois-Gallais. Memoir of Mademoiselle Rosa Bonheur. New York, 1857, pp. 34–35, 41–64, reprints British reviews of the painting from its London exhibition in 1855.
"Rosa Bonheur's Horse Fair." New York Times (October 1, 1857), p. 4, describes this picture's exhibition at the Williams, Stevens, and Williams Gallery, New York, where a mirror was installed over it "at such an angle as to throw out the admirable perspective of the composition with singular force".
Eugène de Mirecourt. Rosa Bonheur. Paris, 1867, pp. 60–62, notes that the artist spent eighteen months on studies for this picture, during which time she visited the horse fair twice a week, dressed in male attire; states erroneously that the painting was sold to the French government, then retrieved by Bonheur and resold to Gambart.
M. de Saint-Santin. "J.-R. Brascassat." Gazette des beaux-arts 24 (June 1868), pp. 575–76.
"The Stewart Art Gallery." Harper's Weekly 23 (May 3, 1879), p. 350, ill. pp. 348–49 (wood engraving of the Stewart gallery, including this picture).
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: I. Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart." Art Amateur 1 (June 1879), p. 6.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart. II. The Meissoniers." Art Amateur 1 (July 1879), p. 29.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of the Estate of Alexander Turney Stewart. III." Art Amateur (September 1879), p. 74, praises Bonheur's depiction of the horses in this picture compared to Meissonier's in "1807, Friedland" (MMA 87.20.1).
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. The Art Treasures of America. Philadelphia, , vol. 1, pp. 23, 25, 48, 52, ill. (engraving).
John Oldcastle. "An American Millionaire's Gallery." Art Journal, n.s., (1887), pp. 154–56, ill. (engraving of the Stewart gallery, including this picture).
Walter Rowlands. "Art Sales in America." Art Journal, n.s., (1887), p. 294, notes that it brought [the American equivalent of] £10,600 at the Stewart sale in 1887.
"Two Great Masterpieces: Meissonier and Bonheur Excite the Bidders." New York Times (March 26, 1887), p. 1, describes its purchase for $53,000 by Samuel P. Avery, acting as an agent for an unknown collector, at the Stewart auction.
"For the People to Enjoy: Rosa Bonheur's Great Work in the Art Museum." New York Times (March 27, 1887), p. 9, reports Vanderbilt's gift of this painting to the MMA.
É[mile]. Durand-Gréville. "La peinture aux États-Unis: les galeries privées (2e et dernier article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 36 (September 1887), p. 250.
"The New Pictures at The Metropolitan Museum." Harper's Weekly (May 14, 1887), p. ?.
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer. "The Wolfe Collection at the Metropolitan Museum. I." Independent 39 (November 17, 1887), p. 6.
"The Fine Arts: Recent Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (April 16, 1887), p. 193.
M[ariana]. G[riswold]. van Rensselaer. "Pictures of the Season in New York. III." American Architect and Building News 21 (April 23, 1887), p. 195.
"The Fine Arts: Further Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (May 7, 1887), p. 232.
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 17 (June 1887), p. 3.
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 16 (May 1887), p. 122.
"Gallery and Studio: The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art Amateur 18 (December 1887), p. 7.
Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "Fine Arts: Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Independent 39 (April 21, 1887), p. 6.
Clarence Cook. Art and Artists of Our Time. New York, 1888, vol. 1, pp. 254, 257–58, relates that Bonheur painted a reduced replica of this picture with some changes for Landseer's use in making the engraving, and that this replica was bequeathed by Jacob Bell to the National Gallery; notes that the National Gallery declined Bonheur's offer to replace their version with a second replica which she considered better.
René Peyrol. Rosa Bonheur: Her Life and Work. London, 1889, pp. 8–10, 25–26, ill. (frontispiece, etching by L. Flameng) [reprinted in Esther Singleton, ed., "Modern Paintings As Seen and Described by Great Writers," New York, 1911, pp. 169–74, ill.], notes that in preparation for this picture, Bonheur visited the horse market dressed as a man to avoid "the inconvenience and unpleasantness to which her costume as a lady would subject her"; states that Napoleon III wished to purchase it at the Salon but Bonheur rejected the offer as too low.
J.-K. Huysmans. Certains. Paris, 1889, p. 124.
Philip Gilbert Hamerton. The Present State of the Fine Arts in France. London, 1892, p. 19.
John Denison Champlin Jr. and Charles C. Perkins, ed. Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York, 1892, vol. 1, pp. 177–78.
John Durand. The Life and Times of A. B. Durand. New York, 1894, p. 193.
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4.
Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1898, pp. 186–87, no. 654.
"True History of Bonheur's 'Horse Fair'." New York Times (January 1, 1898), p. RBA6, publishes a letter from Gambart to Avery describing his purchase of this picture after Bonheur's offer to sell it to the town of Bordeaux for Fr 12,000 was refused; mentions the two replicas and a small watercolor of the picture.
"Louvre of Nations." New York Times (September 17, 1898), p. RBA618.
William Sharp. "The Art Treasures of America (Concluded.)." Living Age, 7th ser., 1 (December 3, 1898), pp. 605–6.
Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, p. 79.
L[éon]. Roger-Milès. Rosa Bonheur: Sa vie – son oeuvre. Paris, 1900, pp. 50–53, 56, 59–60, 62, 65, 170, states that Queen Victoria requested a private viewing of this picture at Windsor Castle when it was exhibited in London in 1855; relates that Nathalie Micas executed much of the National Gallery replica because Bonheur had been pressed for time to complete it for the engraver; notes that the second replica [see Notes] was mostly created by Bonheur, with her sister Juliette only preparing the main outlines.
Masters in Art: Rosa Bonheur 4 (1903), pp. 321–22, 327, 331–33, pl. II.
Frank Hird. Rosa Bonheur. London, 1904, pp. 25, 27–28, 31, 44, 47, 59, 70–77, 79, 81–83, 86, lists five versions of the picture: our original, the two replicas, the watercolor (private collection, Middlesbrough), and a drawing made after a photograph (then in Gambart's collection).
John Ruskin. The Works of John Ruskin. Ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. Vol. 14, London, 1904, p. 173 n. 1, p. 174, criticizes the artist for avoiding the painting of faces in this picture.
Théodore Guédy. Manuel pratique du collectioneur de tableaux comprenant les principales ventes des XVIII, XIX siècles jusqu'à nos jours... Paris, , p. 20.
Georges Riat. Gustave Courbet peintre. Paris, 1906, p. 104.
Anna Klumpke. Rosa Bonheur: Sa vie, son oeuvre. Paris, 1908, pp. 1, 18, 110, 217–32, 243, 267–68, 324, 368, 382, 414, 424, 432, ill. between pp. 226 and 227 [English ed., "Rosa Bonheur: The Artist's (Auto)biography," Ann Arbor, 1997, pp. xi–xii, 5, 13, 69, 147–53, 162, 175–76, 213, 217, 236, 243, 260, 276], adopts the "voice" of the artist to recount the early history of this painting and recalls her inspiration to interpret, not imitate, the Parthenon friezes; relates that after reviewing studies for this picture and "Haymaking" (1855; Musée National du Château, Fontainebleau), the French Minister of Fine Arts commissioned the latter, asserting that Bonheur was not experienced enough in painting horses, but then unsuccessfully attempted to substitute "The Horse Fair" after its critical acclaim in 1853; cites the proposed sale price to the town of Bordeaux as Fr 15,000.
[François Crastre]. Rosa Bonheur. Paris, , pp. 39–43.
Muriel Ciolkowska. "Rosa Bonheur's Centenary." International Studio 75 (August 1922), pp. 367, 369–70, ill. p. 371.
Harry B. Wehle. "Seventy-Five Years Ago." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), p. 202.
Albert Ten Eyck Gardner. "The Taste of the Seventies." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), ill. pp. 196, 199 (installation photos).
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), p. 6, ill. p. 49.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 160–64, ill., note that the Paris horse market was held on the Boulevard de l'Hôpital, near the asylum of Salpêtrière; suggest that the inscribed date indicates that Bonheur retouched the painting in response to criticism of the ground, trees, and sky when it was exhibited at the 1853 Salon.
Martin Davies with additions and some revisions by Cecil Gould inFrench School: Early 19th Century, Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, etc. London, 1970, pp. 10–11, under no. 621, notes that the artist obtained a "permission de travestissement" from the police in order to wear male attire when preparing this picture at the horse market; states that Walter Goodall prepared the watercolor copy; mentions several painted studies and drawings besides the five finished versions.
François Duret-Robert Preface by René Huyghe inL'Impressionnisme. [Paris], 1971, p. 302.
John Rewald. "Should Hoving Be De-accessioned?" Art in America 61 (January–February 1973), p. 28.
Eleanor Tufts. Our Hidden Heritage: Five Centuries of Women Artists. New York, 1974, pp. 148–49, fig. 84.
Carl R. Baldwin. The Impressionist Epoch. Exh. brochure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [New York], 1974, p. 25.
Jeremy Maas. Gambart: Prince of the Victorian Art World. London, 1975, pp. 73–76, 79–80, 92–94, 104, 132, 158–61, 176, 181–82, ill. opp. p. 97, tells of Gambart's dealings with this painting, its exhibition in England, and the replicas and engravings made after it.
Jay E. Cantor. "A Monument of Trade: A. T. Stewart and the Rise of the Millionaire's Mansion in New York." Winterthur Portfolio 10 (1975), p. 188, fig. 22 (installation photo).
Rae Becker in Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists: 1550–1950. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1976, pp. 11, 224, fig. 32, states that a study of horses by Gericault was in Bonheur's studio when she painted "The Horse Fair".
Frederick Baekeland. "Collectors of American Painting, 1813 to 1913." American Art Review 3 (November–December 1976), p. 136.
Theodore Stanton, ed. Reminiscences of Rosa Bonheur. reprint ed. (1st ed., 1910). New York, 1976, pp. 30, 42, 124–25, 139, 221, 294, 314, 363, 378–85, 387, 404, ill. on title page, publishes recollections of Bonheur written by her contemporaries.
Denys Sutton inParis—New York: A Continuing Romance. Exh. cat., Wildenstein. New York, 1977, p. 18, pl. V.
Hélène Toussaint. Gustave Courbet, 1819–1877. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. [London], 1978, p. 104 [French ed., 1977, p. 117].
Lois Marie Fink. "French Art in the United States, 1850–1870: Three Dealers and Collectors." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 92 (September 1978), pp. 88, 95, fig. 1.
Paul Spencer-Longhurst. "Art and Artists under the Second Empire." Connoisseur 199 (December 1978), p. 276, fig. 8.
Donna G. Bachmann and Sherry Piland. Women Artists: An Historical, Contemporary and Feminist Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J., 1978, pp. 150–51, ill.
Fine Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century European Paintings and Works of Islamic Interest. Sotheby's, London. April 19, 1978, unpaginated, under no. 163, publishes an unfinished version of our painting, hesitantly attributing it to Bonheur [see Ref. Pancoast 1991]; notes that this version was thought to have been commissioned from the artist by Commander Hill-Lowe of Shropshire, England.
James Harding. Artistes Pompiers: French Academic Art in the 19th Century. London, 1979, p. 29, erroneously states that Pierpont Morgan bought this picture and gave it to the MMA.
Alexandra R. Murphy inCorot to Braque: French Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1979, pp. xvii, xx, xxv.
Gabriel P. Weisberg. The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing 1830–1900. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1980, p. 270.
Danielle Digne. Rosa Bonheur ou l'insolence: L'Histoire d'une vie, 1822–1899. Paris, 1980, pp. 83, 86, 88, 90–95, 98, 105, 108, 147, 155, 160, 171, pl. 1.
Dore Ashton and Denise Browne Hare. Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend. New York, 1981, pp. 82–97, 104, 106, 112–14, 135, 140, 144, 155, 159, 177-78, 185-86, 188, 192–94, ill., observe the direct influence of Gericault, particularly his print "Horses Going to a Fair"; agree with Sterling and Salinger's [Ref. 1966] suggestion that Bonheur retouched the ground, trees, and sky in 1855, and then extended the inscription.
Albert Boime. "The Case of Rosa Bonheur: Why Should a Woman Want to Be More Like a Man?" Art History 4 (December 1981), pp. 397, 405, pl. 29, remarks that preliminary studies reveal that Bonheur focused on the horses and "stuck in the human figures wherever there was space".
Mary Ann Tighe. "Portrait of an Artist." New York Times (May 24, 1981), p. BR15.
William R. Johnston. The Nineteenth Century Paintings in the Walters Art Gallery. Baltimore, 1982, p. 87.
Rosalia Shriver. Rosa Bonheur: With a Checklist of Works in American Collections. Philadelphia, 1982, pp. 29, 31–33, 37, 56, ill. p. 90, notes that in addition to the horse market, Bonheur studied the workhorses at the Paris Omnibus Company; remarks that this picture was the largest executed by any animal painter.
Albert Boime. "The Second Empire's Official Realism." The European Realist Tradition. Ed. Gabriel P. Weisberg. Bloomington, 1982, p. 97, notes that the Percheron horses depicted here were a native French breed from Normandy and were "thus identified with a highly conservative region and carried national and patriotic associations," adding that this picture "therefore glorified the Second Empire"; observes that conservative critics embraced it as an alternative to Courbet's realism.
Richard Alan Watson. "A Study of Rosa Bonheur's The Horse Fair." Master's thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1983, pp. iv, 1–4, 21, 32–33, 35–37, 40–82, 98–101, fig. 1, mentions Gericault's painting "The Start of the Race of the Barberi Horses" (1817; Musée du Louvre, Paris) as a source for this picture; notes that Bonheur's uncompleted "Wheat Threshing in the Camargue" (1864; Musée National de Château de Fontainebleau) was intended as a companion piece; records four replicas: the first by Bonheur and Micas (National Gallery, London), the second begun by Juliette Bonheur (unknown location), the third, measuring 19 x 35 inches (collection Dr. Karl Lowenstein), and the fourth, commissioned by Commander Hill-Lowe (sold Sotheby's, London; now private collection, Baton Rouge); places it in a broader social and artistic context, calling it the artist's "romantic interpretation of the energy and frenzy of the new urban society".
Carol Troyen. "Innocents Abroad: American Painters at the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Paris." American Art Journal 16 (Autumn 1984), pp. 19–20, fig. 18 (installation photo).
John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. Ed. Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie. London, 1984, p. 231.
Maureen C. O'Brien in Maureen C. O'Brien. In Support of Liberty: European Paintings at the 1883 Pedestal Fund Art Loan Exhibition. Exh. cat., Parrish Art Museum. Southampton, N.Y., 1986, pp. 32, 49 n. 18, p. 134, under no. 6.
John Milner. The Studios of Paris: The Capital of Art in the Late Nineteenth Century. New Haven, 1988, p. 71.
Walter Liedtke. The Royal Horse and Rider: Painting, Sculpture, and Horsemanship, 1500–1800. New York, 1989, pp. 85, 323, pl. 212 (detail), erroneously refers to the National Gallery replica as the original.
Anne Henderson and Zoë Urbanek. Rosa Bonheur: Selected Works from American Collections. Exh. cat., Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. Dallas, 1989, unpaginated, reproduce a quarter-size replica of the picture (collection Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wheeler) as most likely the version painted by Bonheur with her sister, Juliette.
Anne Distel. Impressionism: The First Collectors. New York, 1990, p. 233.
Whitney Chadwick. Women, Art, and Society. London, 1990, pp. 180–81, colorpl. 93, mentions this picture's critical acclaim in the context of the 19th century animal rights movement and the role of women in Victorian England.
Virgilia Heimsath Pancoast. "Bonheur in Baton Rouge." IFARreports 12 (August–September 1991), pp. 2–4, locates the replica sold at Sotheby's in 1978 in a private collection, Baton Rouge, and attributes it to Bonheur.
Stephen N. Elias. Alexander T. Stewart: The Forgotten Merchant Prince. Westport, Conn., 1992, pp. 154–55, remarks that although the critics "pronounced the work too large for any private gallery" it hung in Stewart's mansion until his death; states erroneously that William Vanderbilt [Cornelius's son] purchased it at the Stewart sale.
James M. Saslow. "'Disagreeably Hidden': Construction and Constriction of the Lesbian Body in Rosa Bonheur's 'Horse Fair'." The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History. Ed. Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard. New York, 1992, pp. 187, 189–94, 196–97, 200, 202, figs. 1, 2 (detail and overall), argues that the artist painted a self-portrait in the figure of the central horse tamer in this picture, attempting to "create an androgynous and proto-lesbian visual identity" and circumvent socially prescribed feminine ideals; suggests that the horses represent freedom from the constraint Bonheur experienced as a lesbian.
Tamar Garb. "Gender and Representation." Modernity and Modernism: French Painting in the Nineteenth Century. New Haven, 1993, pp. 233, 239, pl. 207, discusses it in terms of gender, sexuality, and representation.
Bethany Tarbell. "Rosa Bonheur's Menagerie." Art & Antiques 15 (November 1993), pp. 60, 63, ill. pp. 58–59 (color detail).
John House. "Exhibition Reviews, New York: The New Nineteenth-Century European Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum." Burlington Magazine 135 (December 1993), p. 856.
Whitney Chadwick. "The Fine Art of Gentling: Horses, Women and Rosa Bonheur in Victorian England." The Body Imaged: The Human Form and Visual Culture Since the Renaissance. Ed. Kathleen Adler and Marcia Pointon. Cambridge, 1993, pp. 89–96, 98–100, 107, 196 n. 3, pl. 19, describes how the Victorian interpretation of this picture "as an epic struggle, one in which man's battle to secure control over powerful beasts symbolised a more generalised contest aimed at asserting cultural domination over untamed nature" was complicated by the fact that the artist was a woman; observes that the taming of horses was widely understood as a metaphor for domesticating women's "animal natures".
19th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. November 1, 1995, unpaginated, under no. 156, mentions it in a discussion of a copy then in a private collection, Tokyo.
John Fairley. The Art of the Horse. New York, 1995, pp. 141–42, colorpl. 90.
M. Sue Kendall inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 29, New York, 1996, p. 651.
Heather McPherson inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 4, New York, 1996, p. 318.
"Bonheur Panels, Gérôme Painting in Major Exhibitions." Dahesh Muse (Winter 1997), unpaginated, announces that the 1997 Bonheur retrospective in Bordeaux marks the first time that this picture was shown with the plaque made after the painting by Bonheur's brother, Isidore, for a monument to the artist in Fontainebleau.
"Rosa Bonheur's Remarkable Art and Life is Celebrated in First International Retrospective." Dahesh Muse (Autumn 1997), unpaginated.
Francis Ribemont inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, pp. 9–11, 95, 128, 133, ill. on cover (color).
Bruno Foucart inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, pp. 14, 19.
Dominique Cante inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, pp. 28–29, 158, no. 12, ill.
Dominique Dussol inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, pp. 39–40, 45–47, ill. pp. 52–53 (color).
Gabriel Weisberg inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, pp. 56–70, asserts that the critical acceptance and successful marketing of this picture allowed Bonheur to gain independence from government patronage.
Annie-Paule Quinsac inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, p. 104.
Evelyne Helbronner inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, p. 113.
Bernard Denis inRosa Bonheur (1822–1899). Ed. Francis Ribemont. Exh. cat., Galerie des Beaux-Arts. Bordeaux, 1997, p. 150.
Elizabeth Martin and Vivian Meyer. Female Gazes: Seventy-Five Women Artists. Toronto, 1997, pp. 36–37, ill. (color).
Patricia Mainardi inCourbet: Artiste et promoteur de son oeuvre. Ed. Jörg Zutter and Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. Exh. cat., Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne. Paris, 1998, p. 116, fig. 134.
Gabriel Weisberg inRosa Bonheur: All Nature's Children. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum. New York, 1998, pp. viii, xii–xiv, 1–4, 6–18, fig. 1.
Annie-Paule Quinsac inRosa Bonheur: All Nature's Children. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum. New York, 1998, p. 26.
Britta C. Dwyer inRosa Bonheur: All Nature's Children. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum. 1998, pp. 66, 68.
Cristina Portell inRosa Bonheur: All Nature's Children. Exh. cat., Dahesh Museum. New York, 1998, pp. 90, 92.
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), p. 53.
Jean Strouse. Morgan: American Financier. New York, 1999, p. 273.
Lionel Lambourne. Victorian Painting. London, 1999, pp. 319–20, states that this picture was sent to Buckingham Palace on September 5, 1855 to be viewed by Queen Victoria, noting that although the Queen did not purchase it "she did command a letter to be sent expressing her admiration" [see Ref. Roger-Milès 1900].
Laurel Lampela. "Daring to Be Different: A Look at Three Lesbian Artists." Art Education 54 (March 2001), p. 48, ill. (overall and detail).
Hollis Clayson. Paris in Despair: Art and Everyday Life under Siege (1870–71). Chicago, 2002, pp. 285, 294, 298, 445 n. 26, agrees with Saslow's [Ref 1992] assertion that this picture includes a self-portrait.
Valérie Bajou. Courbet. Paris, 2003, p. 94.
Louise Lippincott and Andreas Blühm. Fierce Friends: Artists and Animals, 1750–1900. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. London, 2005, pp. 108–9, 140.
Neil Harris inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, p. 221, notes that Sterling Clark enjoyed viewing this picture at the MMA, "proclaiming it 'one of the finest pictures in the museum,' long after the professional staff had recoiled from its presence in horror".
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. Nineteenth-Century European Art. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2006, pp. 288–89, ill. p. 268 and fig. 12-24 (color, detail and overall).
Ross King. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism. New York, 2006, pp. 241, 249, 369.
19th Century European Art. Sotheby's, New York. April 18, 2007, pp. 173–74, under no. 114.
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, p. 9, figs. 5, 14 (installation photos, color and black and white).
Sylvain Amic inGustave Courbet. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, p. 342 [French ed., Paris, 2007].
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 434, no. 343, ill. pp. 352–53, 434 (color, overall and detail).
There are three autograph painted replicas of this work: the earliest (47 1/4 x 100 1/4 in.), begun in 1855 by Nathalie Micas, is in the National Gallery, London; the second (48 x 100 in.), begun by Bonheur's sister Juliette and formerly in the McConnel collection, Derbyshire, is probably the version that was in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wheeler in 1989 (see Henderson and Urbanek 1989); the third (49 1/2 x 105 1/4 in.), sold by Sotheby's, London, April 19, 1978, no. 163, is in a private collection, Baton Rouge. Watson (1983) lists a fourth replica (19 x 35 in.) owned by Dr. Karl Lowenstein. An autograph watercolor version (24 3/4 x 50 1/8 in.) was sold by Sotheby's, New York, on April 18, 2007, lot 114. Watson (1983) records another autograph watercolor version (24 x 49 in.) in a private collection that was sold by Knoedler in 1982. A drawing begun by Bonheur after a photograph of the work was sold by Christie's, London, on May 2, 1903, lot 1, to a Mr. Wallis (see Watson 1983 and Pancoast 1991). Numerous oil and pencil studies exist, including three in the MMA (1975.319.2; 1991.463; 1996.319). In addition, several copies and prints have been made after this composition. The earliest engraving, by Veyrassat, was executed while the painting was exhibited in the Salon of 1853. In 1856, Thomas Landseer's engraving, based on the first replica, was widely distributed and contributed to the picture's immense popularity.