Henry Mark Anthony was one of the most promising landscape artists of his generation. He lived in France from 1834 to 1841, and befriended both Corot and Dupré, inevitably absorbing the Barbizon ethos. Allen Staley (op. cit.) notes how this tempered the Pre-Raphaelite influence in his work, which was contemporaneous to his development when in England. Nevertheless, he was praised by critics such as William Michael Rossetti, who acknowledged Anthony as the most outstanding landscape artist in England. In his diary Ford Madox Brown described Anthony as 'like Constable, only better by far'.
In 1854 Anthony was awarded the Liverpool Academy's annual prize, and his pictures attracted important Pre-Raphaelite collectors such as J. Hamilton Trist, James Leathart and George Rae. However the Pre-Raphaelite dictum slowed Anthony's work in progress; Madox Brown recalled that he left many pictures unfinished, as he could only complete them on site. This aim sat ill with Anthony's large and ambitious conceptions and Staley notes that his later work seems 'theatrically insubstantial'.
The present picture's confident technique and intrinsic vitality demonstrate Anthony's early prowess. A fortune teller scrutinises her cards, watched over by eager companions, whilst the camp fire burns nearby. Anthony exploits our most romantic conception of gypsy life, as full of colour and insular ritual, a view which took hold in the nineteenth century.