A work painted in England before the artist's departure for Australia in 1878. Ashton studied in London and at the Académie Julian in Paris. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and at the Royal Society of British Artists from 1871, and worked as an illustrator for journals in London (this picture published in the Illustrated London News) before being invited to Melbourne to work on David Syme's Illustrated Australian News. He left for Australia in 1878, settling eventually in Sydney and becoming one of the most influential figures in the Australian art world: he exhibited works painted in England, befriended Buvelot and McCubbin (dragging the latter out of his studio and up to Heidelberg) and painted with Daplyn on the Hawkesbury from 1884, becoming a central figure in the plein air group there which included Conder, Fullwood, Mahony and Nerli (the Hawkesbury outings forerunners of the famous artists' camps of the late 1880s and early 1890s). He later credited himself with introducing 'plein airism' to Australia ('I had done a fairly large canvas of Merri Creek which I think is the first picture  painted out of doors in the Commonwealth. Up to that time the artists [...] did careful drawings in the open, and in the studio turned them into dull uninspiring pictures. I had but lately come from France with all the enthusiasm of the "plein airists" who denounced any picture that was not painted out of doors') and his Barbizon-influenced plein airism can be seen as one of the formative influences on the Heidelberg School. For his portrait sketch of the then young plein airist Louis Abrahams, see lot 6.