After the death of his mother in 1906, Sargent decided to undertake less portrait commissions, and spend more time painting on the continent with his sisters, Emily and Violet Ormond, and her young family. The party often included Miss Eliza Wedgwood, the Misses Barnard, the Harrisons, and the Austrian painter, Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn and his American wife, Jane. A favourite location was Purtud in the Swiss Alps, at the head of the Val d'Aosta. Sargent visited every summer between 1906 and 1909, happy to paint all day long under the shade of his protective umbrella with Miss Wedgwood looking on. Here he worked on landscape and mountain studies, as well as a series of decorative figure studies, in which his nieces, Rose-Marie and Reine Ormond, in exotic Turkish costume, recline against the edge of the brook at Purtud (see R. Ormond, John Singer Sargent Paintings, Drawings, Watercolours, London, 1970, pp. 75-6).
Twelve watercolours of Putrud and the Val d'Aosta, mostly forest scenes, and including the present work, were sold at the artist's studio sale at Christie's in 1925.
This work will be included in the forthcoming John Singer Sargent catalogue raisonné by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, in collaboration with Warren Adelson and Elizabeth Oustinoff.