An early mention of specific beef breeds shows the popularity of Devons and Durhams. Devons are a very old, solid red breed, formerly dual-purpose but nowadays beef. Durhams, which became Shorthorns, were another old dual-purpose breed that commonly came in red.
The Durham Ox in 1802. (From Wikipedia Commons)
Which leads to this link, which discusses how these prints with the exaggerated images of animals were used to aid in the development of new breeds, by highlighting the desirable breed traits.
*Cows are red: While books and pictures invariably shows cows as being black and white, it turns out that up until recent times most of the common breeds, for both dairy and beef, were red, or red and white, or at least brown. Therefore portrayals of cows in historical contexts (i.e. books) should more properly be red, not black and white.