Urgent Museum Notice

Highland Raid

Close up of Highland Raid

A large group of animals is herded by two shepherds on a grassy hill above the ocean. Black, tan, and red bulls crowd small white sheep with curled horns. The animals move nervously, their coats blowing in the wind. Clouds in the background suggest an impending storm.

Rosa Bonheur, The Highland Raid, 1860; Oil on canvas, 51 x 84 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Highland Raid
Rosa Bonheur

“At one time Rosa Bonheur had a complete menagerie in her home: a lion and lioness, a stag, a wild sheep, a gazelle, horses, etc. One of her pets was a young lion whom she allowed to run about and often romped with…I was easier in mind when this leonine pet gave up the ghost.” So wrote a close friend of Rosa Bonheur in recalling the artist’s passion for animals.

Bonheur, known for her unconventional ambitions and conduct, received special dispensation from the police to wear trousers and a smock to visit butcher shops and slaughterhouses. It was in these gritty locales that she closely studied animal anatomy to prepare for her paintings.

Highland Raid epitomizes the artist’s ability to capture the raw spirit of animals, such as these bulls and sheep whose thick wooly coats are typical of Highland livestock. The lowering sky suggests that the shepherds are trying to outrun the impending storm, driving the herd down the “raid,” old Scottish for road.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Rosa Bonheur
  • Title

    Highland Raid
  • Date

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    51 x 84 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display