Born in Bordeaux in 1827, Isidore Bonheur made his début at the Salon in 1848 where he exhibited regularly from then on. Perhaps Bonheur's best-known horse and jockey group, Le Grand Jockey (no. 4817), was shown in bronze alongside another of his important large equestrian studies, Un cavalier, époque Louis XV (no. 4816) at the 1879 Salon. No doubt realising the commercial potential of these large equestrian groups, Bonheur exhibited them again at the 1883 Exposition Nationale (nos. 893 and 894) and for a third time at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle (no. 1690), where he was awarded the coveted Médaille d'Or.
Bonheur had a close working relationship with his brother-in-law, the celebrated Parisian founder Hippolyte Peyrol, who was married to his sister Juliette. These close ties resulted in the production of exceptionally cast and finely chased bronzes, often identified, as here, by Peyrol's miniscule cachet. The sensitivity of the cast which shows the veins, the tendons and the detailed movement of the muscles is indicative for the quality of the present model. One version of the Le Grand Jockey with the same height is part of the bronze sculpture collection of the usée d'Orsay in Paris. (P. Kjellberg, Les bronzes du XIXe siècle, Paris, 1989, pp. 101-106)