Marco Ricci started his career in his native Belluno, probably in the studio of his uncle Sebastiano Ricci. After murdering a gondolier in a brawl, the artist was exiled, fled to Split and later moved to Milan and Venice and travelled to London in 1708 accompanying Charles Edward Montagu, 1st Duke of Manchester (circa 1662-1722), previously 4th Earl of Manchester. On his way to London the artist stayed in the Netherlands where he studied Dutch landscape painting. As a result of these travels, Ricci's drawings and paintings often display the influences of Italian as well as Dutch art. This fusion of styles is particularly present in this drawing which shows a winter landscape divided by a frosty and dramatically lit tree. The scene is enlivened by peasants gathering wood in the foreground, riders and other figures on the ice.
About half of Ricci's output consists of gouaches of similar size to the present one, often made on kidskin, datable around the 1720s. The majority of these show Arcadian landscapes while only a handful of winter landscapes by the artist are known. In her monograph on the artist, Annalisa Scarpa Sonino only included two such winter landscapes: one at in the Royal Collection, also with a tower (inv. RCIN 400582) and another in a private collection, London (A. Scarpa Sonino, Marco Ricci, Milan, 1991, nos. T 14 and T 113, figs. 212 and 213). Both these drawings are closely related in style to the present one and show a similar rendering of the frosty trees.