Robert Frederick Blum, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1857, studied art and design at the McMicken School of Design (now the Art Academy of Cincinnati) where Alfred Brennan and Kenyon Cox were fellow pupils. In 1876 Blum visited Philadelphia and was exposed to the artwork of the very fashionable portraitist Giovanni Boldini and the Spanish painter and illustrator, Mariano José Maria Bernardo Fortuny y Carbó. These artists' painterly brushstrokes and color schemes had a profound influence on Blum. His emulation of Fortuny led to his being labeled as one of the leading Impressionists at the time. Blum remained in Philadelphia for about nine months studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
In July 1881, Blum traveled to Spain where he studied at the Prado. A Spanish Water Carrier (Toledo) was executed a year later. Utilizing the environs of Toledo, the present work reflects Blum's innovative borrowing of Impressionist techniques combined with his unique sense of realism. Blum captures a momentary glance of daily activity which is energized through brushstroke, color, light and atmosphere.