The son and pupil of the emigré French watercolourist François Louis Francia, who worked for some twenty-five years in England, Alexandre Francia was raised in his father's native city of Calais. Unlike his father, who after returning from London in 1817 worked in relative obscurity in Calais until his death in 1839, Alexandre travelled extensively throughout Europe, particularly in Scotland and the Low Countries, and eventually settled in Brussels. He specialised in marine subjects, notably views of ports, fishing scenes and storms. He made his Salon debut in Paris in 1835, and was to exhibit in Paris, London, Antwerp and Brussels throughout his career, receiving numerous honours and prizes.
This large and impressive work, alongside another watercolour depicting The Old Pier at Calais, was exhibited in the Belgian section of the Universal Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, where it won a medal. As noted by the artist on a label attached to the reverse, the watercolour was acquired by Camille Dognin, an industrialist from Lyon involved in the manufacture of silk. Another preparatory study of Loch Katrine by the artist, of considerably smaller dimensions and possibly a preparatory study for the present work, was sold at an auction of paintings and watercolours by Louis and Alexandre Francia in Paris in 1876 (Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 27 April 1876, lot 31, as Loch Katrine, en Écosse, h. 0m, 31; l. 0m, 48).
Loch Katrine, at Stronachlachar in the heart of the Trossachs region of Scotland, is eight miles long and averages around a mile wide. Renowned for its beauty, the loch and the surrounding Highland landscape of the Trossachs was celebrated by Sir Walter Scott in his Romantic poem The Lady of the Lake, published in 1810. At the time Francia painted this impressive watercolour, the loch was a popular spot for tourists, who would board a boat for a leisurely trip along the length of the lake.