Jessica was the eldest daughter of James Hayllar, and the sister of Edith, Mary and Kate Hayllar, all of whom, remarkably, exhibited at the Royal Academy. Jessica was arguably the most talented and prolific of the siblings and exhibited there for twenty five years between 1880 and 1915. Her tour de force, A Coming Event, was one of the most enthusiastically received pictures in the sale of The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures, Christie's, London, 20 February 2003, lot 267, where it sold for £120,000.
The family lived at Castle Priory, Wallingford, on the banks of the Thames, and many of their pictures depict the happy, settled, domestic life they enjoyed there. This charming vignette of a quiet corner of the kitchen yard recalls the courtyards of de Hooch, and other Dutch masters. Taught by her father, Jessica seemed to have particularly admired the Dutch school: her interiors, such as that of A Coming Event, often follow the conventions of Vermeer.
The painting formerly belonged to John Osborne, the playwright, and his wife Helen, who gave the picture to the present vendor.