Troyon was one of many 19th-century painters who was trained as a porcelain decorator (Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were others). Although he exhibited successfully at the Salon from 1833 with conventional landscape subjects, he was encouraged by Théodore Rousseau and Paul Huet, whom he met in 1843, to paint more directly. Since Troyon had already been painting out of doors, this advice was a validation. Crucial to Troyon's career was a trip to the Netherlands in 1847. In Amsterdam he saw the animal paintings of Albert Cuyp (1620–1691) and Paulus Potter (1625–1654), and he began to add animals to his landscapes. These became very popular with the public not only in France but in England, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria as well. To meet the demand, Troyon hired assistants to fill in the backgrounds so that he could concentrate on the animals, be they cows, sheep, or dogs. Troyon also painted pure landscapes and in his later years frequently visited the Normandy coast. There, freed from market demands, he painted in a more exploratory fashion, recording variations in light. He was the first of the artists associated with Barbizon and rural French subjects to be awarded the cross of the Legion of Honor, in 1849.