Smythe exhibited at the Institute of Painters in Watercolours from 1881, becoming a member in 1882. From 1892, however, he transferred his loyalties to the Old Watercolour Society, of which he became a member in 1894. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1863, and became a member there in 1911. His work focuses on rustic subjects and has a poetic quality, largely inspired by Smythe's love of France. He and his wife moved to Normandy in 1879, and in 1882 they moved into the Château d'Honvault, where Smythe lived and painted for the rest of his life. Rosa M. Whitlaw and W.L. Wyllie record, in their book Lionel P. Smythe, R.A., R.W.S., his life and work, that Smythe frequently went to Le Portel on sketching trips to record the lives and festivals of the people who lived there.
This is a study for the large watercolour exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1896, no. 1072.