Description The heat of the noonday sun is palpable in this painting as drooling oxen drag a plough. They are followed by a man whose face is obscured by a hat, which shields him from the bright sun, while birds peck at the furrow left in their wake. Rosa Bonheur was among the most celebrated painters of animals in the 19th century. She frequently depicted plowing scenes that highlighted her command of animal anatomy, which she studied through dissection. This scene reverses the composition of her first work to gain major celebrity: “Ploughing in the Nivernais,” which was exhibited at the Salon and won a medal in 1849. In 1857–58 Rosa Bonheur’s fame and success in the United States was secured by the national tour of her dramatic 16-ft. (five-meter)-wide oil painting, The Horse Fair. The tour was organized by the dealer Ernest Gambart, who played a significant role in fostering a taste for European art among American collectors. Undocumented in any of the early catalogues of the Walters Art Museum, this painting seems to have been acquired by Henry Walters during the last few years of his life. The most successful and celebrated female artist of her time, in 1860, Bonheur purchased the château of By in the village of Thomery, not far from Barbizon, where she lived with a menagerie of exotic animals.
|12/31/1969||Treatment||cleaned; coated; loss compensation; other|
|4/15/1957||Treatment||mounted; loss compensation; coated|
|10/26/1978||Loan Consideration||examined for loan|
- Millet and Barbizon Art. Matsumoto City Museum, Matsumoto City; Tokuyama City Museum of Art and History, Tokuyama; Kasama Nichido Museum, Kasama City; Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art, Kanazawa. 1996.
- The Realist Tradition: French Painting and Drawing, 1830-1900. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow. 1980-1982.
- Rosa Bonheur: Academic Artist. Meadows Museum, Dallas. 1989.
- Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899). Musee des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, Bordeaux; Musée de l'Ecole de Barbizon, Barbizon; Dahesh Museum of Art, New York. 1997-1998.
- Before Monet: Landscape Painting in France and Impressionist Masters: Highlights from The Walters Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998.
- Triumph of French Painting: Masterpieces from Ingres to Matisse. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach; Dayton Art Institute, Dayton; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. 2000-2002.
- A Magnificent Age: Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte. 2002-2004.
- The Road to Impressionism: Landscapes from Corot to Manet. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2004-2005.
- The Road to Impressionism: Barbizon Landscapes from the Walters Art Museum. The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis; The Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh. 2008-2009.
- 19th Century Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. 2010-2011.
- From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
Provenance Ernest Gambart [date and mode of acquisition unknown]. Probably Henry Walters, Baltimore, [date of acquisition unknown] ; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.  the entry of this painting into the Walters collection is undocumented, it may have been purchased by Henry Walters after 1929, the date of the last complete catalog of the collection.
Inscriptions [Signature] Lower right: Rosa Bonheur; [Date] Lower right: 1854
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, after 1929
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