Gainsborough had recently returned to his native Suffolk after an apprenticeship in London; this imaginary setting evokes the local landscape. Its commissioner would have seen in it a harmonious, idealized image of his own world. The work was painted to decorate a chimney piece, hence the tall vertical format. Gainsborough’s landscapes drew upon both 17th-century Dutch and Flemish examples, as well as contemporary French painting – fashionable models familiar to many of his patrons. In painting the rich, red earth of the foreground, he daringly exploited the possibilities of a limited colour range.