During his stay in Paris in 1884, Breitner already painted several city views in which he manifested himself as the painter par excellence of modern everyday life subject-matter. These paintings, in which Breitner focussed on the construction of large-scale building projects and the life of working-class citizens, were a prelude to his Amsterdam period and the pictures and watercolours he would execute on buildingsites such as De Cruquiusweg, De Jacob van Lennepkade and De van Diemenstraat. When the artist moved to Amsterdam in 1866 the city's appearance was determined by economical and structural change with ambitious building projects taking place on the outskirts of the old city, around the harbours and in the centre. Breitner was fascinated by this explosion of new building-sites and depicted the theme on numerous occasions. A fervent photographer, Breitner also captured the activity of labourers and work-horses with his camera.
As opposed to his early works, in which Breitner depicted horses in a dynamic military setting, the horse in the present lot denotes the strenuous work carried out on the building-sites and above all emphasizes the social content of the work. The watercolour has been rendered with Breitner's characteristic broad brushstrokes and illustrates the artist's unique ablity to capture daily subjects.