John Varley was a well-known and prolific watercolourist. He exhibited regularly at the Old Watercolour Society, of which he was a founder member in 1804. He is best known for his topographical landscapes, often Welsh subjects. These landscapes were usually interpreted in the manner of the Old Masters such as Claude Lorraine (1600-1682) or Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665). In his late career he concentrated almost exclusively on imaginary landscape compositions, whether exhibition pieces or small bold sketches like this one, rapidly executed in dark brown wash. A number of these small studies are known to have been owned both by Samuel Palmer and by Varley's ex-pupil, John Linnell.