This is a rare work by a fascinating artist who absorbed Pre-Raphaelite principles at an unusually early date. The picture was executed in 1853, a mere five years after the formation of the Brotherhood in 1848, and the year in which Webb (who confusingly also signed himself Webb) first exhibited at the Royal Academy. His early work confined itself to studies of the natural world. Allen Staley in The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape characterised these as having 'microscopic foreground detail, pushed to an almost insane extreme'. The Pre-Raphaelite he was most closely associated with was Holman-Hunt. Sheep featured prominently in both artists' work: Webb's A Hedge Bank in May (private collection), exhibited at the British Institution in 1855 is like a magnified detail of Hunt's Strayed Sheep, exhibited in 1853, while The White Owl, exhibited at the R.A. in 1856 was praised by Ruskin. Between 1855 and 1860 Webb lived at Niton, on the Isle of Wight. He stopped exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1878. That he was known to Hunt is suggested by Hunt's inclusion of a drawing of Webb's of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in his autobiography. Webb is thought to have travelled there in the 1860s, in the company of William Gale.