Fratin's expert understanding of animal form no doubt stems from helping his father, who was a taxidermist. His initial interest was in equestrian subjects and it was with one of these that he made his first entry into the Salon in 1831. Fratin studied in Paris under the painter and sculptor Theodore Gericault who was a friend and fellow student of Eugene Delacroix. Both were leaders of the great Romantic tradition in French art. The Romantic influence stayed with Fratin throughout his career, although he tended to prefer domestic animals - this is shown by his favoured motif of flowing manes and tails. For this reason, Fratin's work was highly popular in Europe and America as well as England and he was regarded as ‘the greatest animal sculptor of his day’ at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. His animals often appear thin by today's well fed standards, with their protruding rib-cages and lean limbs.