John Craxton was drawn to Greek goats for their role in myth and their 'demonic, wilful and undisciplined' resilience. He said: 'Goats are essential domestic animals in the Mediterranean and yet they destroy the landscape, nibbling away at the trees and devouring every green shoot. My paintings comment on life but it is all implicit.'
The previous owner of the present work, Peter Watson (1908-1956) was one of the most influential art collectors and benefactors of his day. In 1940 he co-founded the literature and arts magazine Horizon, with Cyril Connolly and Stephen Spender, and in 1946 co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, with Herbert Read, Roland Penrose, Peter Gregory, Geoffrey Grigson and E.L. Mesens. Watson introduced John Craxton to Lucian Freud in 1941, and funded their shared studio in a St John's Wood maisonette.