George Barret, who was born in Dublin and studied at the Dublin Society Schools, had already established a reputation for himself as among the most talented of contemporary landscape artists in Ireland, when he decided to move to London in around 1763, in order to further his artistic career. Among his early patrons in Ireland he counted some of the most important and influential figures of the day including Edward Wingfield (1729-64), 2nd Viscount Powerscourt, of Powerscourt, and Joseph Leeson (1711-83), 1st Earl of Milltown, of Russborough, who were instrumental in introducing him to a wider circle of patrons in both Ireland and later England. From early in his career Barret was deeply influenced by the natural scenery of Ireland. He was particularly inspired by the rugged and wild scenery that he found in the Dargle river valley, running through Powerscourt demesne, and the awe-inspiring Powerscourt waterfall, which he studied and painted frequently under the patronage of Viscount Powerscourt in the 1750s. Once in London Barret soon established himself in the competitive artistic world of the capital taking advantage of the public exhibitions available to artists to demonstrate his ability. The 'Large Landscape with Figures' which he exhibited at the Free Society exhibition in 1764 was received with much acclaim and won for him the first premium of 50 guineas. Such public success opened the doors of aristocratic patronage (the 1764 picture was bought later that year by the Marquess of Rockingham for 100 guineas) and Barret's work was soon vying with that of his fashionable English contemporary Richard Wilson. Barret's commercial success in England was reflected in his increasingly elevated position in the hierachy of artistic London; elected to the Chamber of the Society of Artists in 1764, he was later - in 1768 - one of the founding members of the Royal Academy, where he was to exhibit his works until 1782.
This painting formed part of the notable collection of Edward McGuire (1901-1992), who became a Fine Gael senator in 1948. Politician, sportsman, artist and connoisseur, McGuire is perhaps best known as the proprietor and chairman of the Dublin department store Brown Thomas, which he took over the management of in the mid-1930s. He acquired Newton Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin in 1946, which he filled with furniture, silver, porcelain and seventeenth and eighteenth century European paintings. When McGuire sold Newton Park in 1976 the contents were dispersed in a collection sale at Christie's.