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Juliana Engberg, the director of Melbourne’s ACCA, discovered the horse-head painting in a storeroom. Photo: Jesse Marlow. Source: The Age.

Andrew Stephens, ‘Horse painting identified as key work by French painter Rosa Bonheur’, The Age, 12 December 2014

A painting donated to a Tasmanian museum by a wealthy arts patron has been confirmed as a key work by a famous French suffragette painter.

New research into the painting’s provenance – and how it came to be in Launceston – was sparked when Juliana Engberg, the director of Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, first saw the painting Cheval Normand during a research trip in September.

The horse-head painting was acquired by bequest in 2010. Staff at Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery knew who had painted the work, but had not been able to check its history  thoroughly and discover its significance. Ms Engberg said she had “felt instinctively” it was an important work, and the name of the painter – Rosa Bonheur – rang bells.

Following Ms Engberg’s interest, a conservator and a curator investigated the painting, confirming it as a key example of  work by Bonheur, a highly regarded 19th century artist whose work is in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

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