Following his first solo exhibition in 1894, Steer’s annual routine was set. Each summer holiday saw him with one or two congenial colleagues from the Slade, setting off to visit picturesque corners of England, often those recorded in Turner’s Liber Studiorum. Castles and crags alternate with simpler pastorals. At Hawes in Wensleydale for instance, a flat meadow and winding stream take the eye to the distant hills over which a peaceful cloudscape presides. When, by 1913, Blackwell was being urged by James Bolivar Manson to consider the work of Lucien Pissarro, he wrote asking why Manson disliked Steer’s work. Manson’s reply is unrecorded, but he reported to Pissarro that Blackwell, ‘… gives up all claim to being a collector – he only buys what he likes’. With so many fine Steers in his collection, it was clear where his aesthetic sympathies lay.
In the thirties this area of great natural beauty was flooded to create a dam at the east end of Haweswater, to supply Manchester. The present picture is therefore likely to represent a lost landscape.