Carel Willink is one of the foremost Dutch artists of the 20th century. After experimenting with expressionist and abstract art at the beginning of his career, he turned to figuration, developing his personal neorealist style, which he himself referred to as ‘imaginary realism’. In 1931, he travelled to Italy, visiting Florence and Pisa, and venturing as south as Pompeii. This journey, echoing the 18th century Grand Tour, exerted a profound influence on his œuvre.
The present work is a perfect example of Willink’s style of the 1930s. A picturesque landscape, abiding at first glance to the rules of classical painting, is in reality pervaded by a foreboding sense of threat, emphasised by the dark, leaden sky. The widespread feeling of uncertainty of the time, together with the political turmoil, were subtly conveyed by Willink in his paintings, in which a 'former symbol of pastoral peace can form unbearable menace' (H.L.C. Jaffé, Willink, Amsterdam, 1979, p. 194).