Virginie Breton was an accomplished painter and ardent advocate for other women artists. She first trained as an artist with her father, Jules Breton, a celebrated painter of Barbizon landscapes and figures. She exhibited regularly at the Salon until 1934 and won numerous awards for her entries. Her choice of subject ranged from religious compositions, genre scenes and landscapes to depictions of family life and children, for which she had a particular penchant.
The goat here gnawing on a flowering branch recalls those painted by Virginie's friend and mentor, Rosa Bonheur, the celebrated painter of animals who, in 1865, was the first woman decorated with the Légion d'honneur. Virginie was the second to be inducted, in 1894, and became an Officier in 1914.