This idyllic picture is an eloquent example of Boucher's landscapes of the period in which it was painted. In 1765, Boucher was still highly productive. Having been engaged in several commissions for King Louis XV during the 1740s, he had increasingly found himself employed by the King's mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, who had commissioned from him such masterpieces as the Rising of the Sun and the Setting of the Sun (both of 1753, Wallace Collection, London). The Marquise had died in 1764, but official recognition for the artist did not end there and in 1765, Boucher was appointed to succeed Carle Vanloo as Premier peintre du Roi and elected Directeur de l'Académie Royale. Up until his very last years he showed he was capable of producing large decorative paintings (such as the Shepherd's Idyll and the Washerwomen (both of 1768, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), he was still supplying paintings for use by the Gobelins, and was also designing sets for the Opéra.
Some of his most successful pictures at this stage were, as in the present case, small landscapes. Boucher had been producing landscapes since his return from Rome in circa 1731 and had included tableaux de fantaisie of landscape among the three pictures that he had shown at the Academy on his election as full professeur in 1737, as well as exhibiting four sujets champêtres in the first of the revived Salons, later in the same year. These earliest landscapes were all reminiscences of Italy. Possibly encouraged by the artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Boucher started to derive inspiration from local French sites, such as his Mill of Quiquengrogne at Charenton apparently signed and dated 1739, and paintings of the environs of Beauvais (where he became associated with Oudry) of 1742 and 1743, known from engravings of 1744 (see A. Laing, J. Patrice Marandel and P. Rosenberg in the catalogue of the exhibition François Boucher, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986-1987, pp. 185-6). Later his landscapes were to become more fantastic, often employing a slightly lighter palette and often supremely painterly. Traces of Italy remained (such as the round tower in the present picture), but Boucher set out to be deliberately artificial, wishing, according to the Goncourt Brothers, to relieve his age from the 'ennui de la nature' (see ibid., p. 312).
Ananoff (loc. cit., 1972) noted that the picture that was sold as a pendant to the present picture in 1935, was 'only a copy of a lost work'. Alastair Laing has kindly pointed out that this was in fact the landscape now in the Manchester City Art Gallery, whose true pendant is in the Östergotlands och Linköpings Stads Museum, Sweden (see A. Laing et al., 1986-7, p. 312-4).