Henriette Ronner-née Knip became famous in later life for her pictures of cats and dogs. Whilst still a teenager she began to specialise in the painting of animals. At the age of 14 she completed a painting with her brother August which earned the family Knip a substantial royal pension . A year later she sold a work in Düsseldorf which led her to believe she could make a living out of painting and take care of her blind father, the former artist Joseph August Knip.
During this period, a number of rural themes recure in her work: farmyard scenes, stable interiors, Brabantine landscapes and all kinds of animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, poultry, cows, monkeys etc.). After her marriage in 1850, she moved to Brussels where she was to spend the rest of her life.
In 1860 she exhibited a large painting La mort d'un ami, (182 x 250 now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, inv. 3978). This dramatic canvas of a dead draught-dog next to its weeping master, was highly acclaimed and established her reputation as a painter of dogs.
By the 1860's, Henriette Ronner had become the most popular female painter in Belgium and Holland, perhaps reminiscent of the great reputation of the well respected Rosa Bonheur. She had admirers amongst Belgian Royalty and nobility which led to many commissions for 'cats and dogs'.
Works by Ronner from this period were well represented in the stock of the Art trade in Brussels together with 'animaliers' as Eugène Verboeckhoven and Constant Troyon.
As a member Ronner exhibited with the "Cercle Artistique", the Société Belge des Aquarellistes together with fellow Dutch animal specialists Willem Roelofs and Jan de Haas.
Assuming the present lot can be dated around 1875, it is tempting to think that the influence of artists like Roelofs and De Haas was of account when Ronner chose to accomplish a large format canvas with cattle in a Brabantine landscape, making use of a Hague School-like brush stroke. This subject choice seems somewhat uncharacteristic at this stage of Ronner's career. Perhaps she felt a brief urge to get closer to her contempories and to create another 'statement' like she did with La morte d'un ami in 1860.
The present lot is likely to be the only known monumental landscape with country animals painted by Ronner in the 1870's and can therefore be considered rare.
See colour illustration