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This is a painting of sheer animal power. Brilliant white light builds up the turbulence and excitement of the scene. Rosa Bonheur has made the convulsion of the muscles and the flying manes almost tangible, capturing the rearing, plunging animals and the strength and dexterity of their handlers with almost photographic reality. The magnificent white horses in the picture are Percherons, bred for hauling weights. Bonheur has captured their spirit and their world, with its noises, smells and sense of danger, and made them into high art.
The Horse Fair
Oil on canvas
H 120 x W 254.6 cm
Bequeathed by Jacob Bell, 1859