As an intrinsic part of the countryside he loved, Munnings often chose to make studies of cows and pigs. For him they merited as much attention as the horse. Munnings actually purchased a cow to paint circa 1911 and describes her as 'probably the best and most profitable deal I ever made ... To my mind, a cow although perhaps not so romantic and beautiful an animal as the horse, is a better subject for an artist' (see A.J. Munnings, An Artist's Life, Bungay, 1950, p. 280). The first painting of cows he executed was in 1901 and the last and the most famous, painted circa 1920, was The Friesian Bull (Lady Lever Art Gallery), the smallest version of this being in Queen Mary's Doll's House.
Munnings painted several compositions featuring short-horn cattle, as depicted in the present work. Young Herdsmen at Mendham, dated 1910, (Sotheby's New York, 9 June 1989, lot 372) features the same cow as the present work, hence the dating of this work, and Herdsmen and Cattle, dated 1911, (Christie's London, 23 March 1995, lot 277) depicts several cows with a herdsman. These works are among the largest cow pictures in Munnings's oeuvre.
The cow featured in the present work is depicted with as much sensitivity and feeling as the finest thoroughbred, showing Munnings's obvious enjoyment of the subject.