Smetham's work was characterised by his friend Rossetti as partaking 'greatly of Blake's immediate spirit, being also often allied by landscape intensity to Samuel Palmer'. In the artist's own words he explained how he sought in his imagination to combine 'art, literature and the religious life'. Amos, a shepherd who tended mulberries, lived near Jerusalem on the edge of the desert of Judah. He was one of the first great Hebrew prophets and foretold the doom which would fall on Israel unless its people mended their ways. In the midst of the social and industrial upheaval of the mid-nineteenth century such subjects held great appeal for Smetham, who felt they had contemporary significance.