When Barret emigrated to England he specialised in representing wild and mountainous landscapes. Over time his style progressed and his late gouches became lighter and more brilliant in colour than his earlier work. The present work is a particularly fine example of his later style, which frequently presented views of the Lake District.
Ullswater is one of the Lake District's most beautiful lakes, surrounded by dramatic mountains and striking countryside; it has inspired many of the great English artists. The poet William Wordsworth, upon seeing the wild daffodils that line the lake's shore, was inspired to write his most famous poem, Daffodils. In Barret's representation of this subject, the mountains which enclose the lake retire gently from its margins. An elegant group of figures can be seen enjoying a picnic on Soulby-Fell, an almost circular hill covered with ferns, to the right of the composition. A ferry transports cattle across the lake to the base of this hill, where the rest of the herd grazes. On the far side of the lake we can see the face of the mountain of Watermillock rising up into the sky.
Barret's works were greatly admired during his lifetime and between 1769 and 1782, thirty-one of his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Barret's influence was considerable, partly due to the popularity of engravings based on his work. S. Middiman issued an engraving related to the present watercolour on 30 July 1784. It depicts a very similar scene with subtle variations in the figures and landscape.