French artist Rosa Bonheur was well respected and considered to be one of the most famous female painters of the 19th century. Bonheur drew inspiration from her father, Raimond, who was a landscape painter, political radical and supporter of women’s rights. Raimond encouraged Bonheur’s desire to become an artist and taught her how to draw and paint which laid the foundation for her future success. French academics barred women from taking most art classes, so Bonheur visited unconventional places to study the anatomy of animals, and in order to fit in amongst the men, Bonheur applied to the police for permission to wear trousers.
The 1841 Salon committee accepted two paintings by the 19-year-old Bonheur. In the next decade, her career saw tremendous success. She became a national selling artist. Bonheur moved to the Château de By in 1861, where she would remain for the rest of her life. At 43 Bonheur was the first woman to receive the insignia of the Legion of Honor.