Inchbold is one of the most original and sympathetic of the many landscape artists in the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Born in Leeds, where he received his initial training, he came to London to study lithography and entered the Royal Academy Schools. His early watercolours are loose and atmospheric, but in the 1850s he came, like so many, under the influence of Ruskin, who encouraged a more detailed approach and an interest in Alpine subjects. Inchbold paid his first visit to Switzerland in 1856. Other journeys followed, and in the late 1870s, driven by poverty and lack of professional success, he settled at Montreux on Lake Geneva. This remained his base until his death in 1888, and Swiss subjects account for most of his later work.
The present watercolour, though undated, appears to be a product of Inchbold's later years. The Road to Sepey, a watercolour in Leeds City Art Gallery, is similarly undated and offers close parallels in terms of size and composition (see John William Inchbold, exh, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1993, cat. no. 54, illustrated p. 47). Christopher Newall has written aptly of the 'ethereal and atmospheric qualities' of the late Alpine watercolours, 'Washes of thin colour are applied in broad areas, fused together and overlapping while still wet on the sheet, to give a constant variety of effect and sense of luminosity. Occasionally trees or a building ... are drawn with a calculated precision.... These areas of detail serve as keys to the overall perspective ... and as counterpoints to the prevailing indistinctness' (Leeds exh. cat., p. 23).