Bariatinskaya was born into Russian nobility. At 18 she married one of the Tsar’s aides-de-camp and became Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn. During the 1840s she was painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, with one of these portraits now in the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Bonheur is regarded as one of the most famous female painters of the 19th Century. She was known for her paintings involving animals, and some of her works are today displayed at the Musee d’Orsay and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.