Linnell was first encouraged to study
from nature by Benjamin West and then
by the watercolourist John Varley. This sketch is one of many made when
Linnell was fourteen, during his year
of apprenticeship to Varley. Varley took Linnell, WH Hunt and others to work outdoors at Twickenham near the river Thames. Linnell later recalled, 'Hunt and
I were always out, weather permitted, painting in oil on millboard from nature'.
Linnell's early exhibition pictures, including Tate's Kensington Gravel Pits, show the same close observation of natural detail.