William Barraud was reputed to have worked in the Customs House for a short period, but left to devote his time entirely to painting. He was a pupil of Abraham Cooper and became known primarily for his pictures of horses and dogs although he also painted some historical subjects. He established a successful practice and exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy from 1828 to 1850 and at the British Institution from 1828 to 1849. William often collaborated and exhibited with his younger brother, Henry, with whom he shared a studio from 1836 until his death in 1850. Henry, a portrait, sporting and genre painter, studied under the portraitist, J.J. Middleton, and exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1833 and 1859 and at the British Institution from 1831 to 1864.
This picture is Henry and William Barraud's first joint exhibit at the Royal Academy. The picture shows an impoverished family at an oasis, striking a deal for their last resource: a magnificent grey Arab stallion. The painting of the horse, with its glossy coat and defined musculature, is a masterly depiction of the Arab type. The picture was acquired in the 1920s by Mr. Musgrave Clark, a breeder of Arab horses.