Jacques-Raymond Brascassat was born in Bordeaux on 30 August 1804. He began his artistic career at the age of fourteen in the studio of the landscape painter Théodore Richard and very early on demonstrated in interest in drawing animals. By 1825, the young artist was studying under Louis Hersent at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was sent to Italy the following year, despite coming in second in the Prix de Rome. In Rome, Brascassat met Théodore-Carulle d'Aligny, with whom the young artist spent most of the year sketching the countryside outside the city. He retuned to Paris in 1831, rejoined d'Aligny at Barbizon in 1831 and exhibited six landscapes that year at the Paris Salon.
At the Paris Salon of 1831, Brascassat received a first prize for his landscapes and a special mention was made of his animal paintings. In the years following, artist gradually gave up history painting altogether in order to concentrate on his animal pictures. By 1837, when he exhibited Bulls Fighting (Nantes, Musee des Beaux-Arts) at the Salon, his reputation as an animal painter was firmly established.
The present work is a tour-de-force of brushwork and draughtsmanship, and clearly demonstrates the artist's skill as a landscape artist as well as a premier animal painter. The movement of the musculature of the cow reaching into the trees clearly shows a complete anatomical understanding of the animal as well as a sympathy for a creature so rarely expressed in painting.