The painting was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1886 and is the product of Richmond's travels in Greece in the late summer of 1883. As Mrs Stirling wrote in The Richmond Papers (1926, p.305), 'the following year (he) returned again to Greece, this time journeying over the Morea, visiting Elis, Arcadia and Sparta ... Thence he journeyed on to Corinth and Argos, travelling leisurely on horseback, and stopping at little remote villages, where he could study the simple pastoral life of the present and dwell in imagination on the life of the past; for in the heart of Arcadia, far from the modernised towns, time and civilisation seemed to have passed by and left existence untouched since the days of Theocritus.'
Richmond's own diary records the experiences which inspired the present picture. On 10 Spetember he had made an excursion from Sparta to the village of Stafia. After spending some time dozing near the ruins of a church, he 'rode home through the quiet windless evening, and saw effects of nature as beautiful as it has ever been my lot to enjoy, strength of colour, power of tone, quiet harmonic solitude amd great peace seemed to gather as the night approached. The rustle of leaves was rare, even then, when the wind had strength to move them, it was as the gentle song of lullaby, hushing them to sleep who had through the day been disturbed and tormented. The great white stems of the poplar trees shone out like silver in the twilight, the hills were like transparent blue crystal; the meadows were of soft green; the hillocks were crowned with the gold of gathered corn fields; little streams pursued their hidden way under vines and fig trees, and their gentle murmur came to the ear like the song of river maidens, clear to those who listen, and speaking of the secrets of pastoral life, re-echoed by the pipes of the shepherd, the bleat of the sheep and the tinkle of their bells. It was with reluctance that I reached Sparta, but the night mists from the river make it unwise to loiter.'
The picture has echoes of the work of Edward Calvert, who, like Richmond's father George Richmond, had been a follower of Blake, and whom Richmond himself had known. Comparisons can also be drawn with the work of George Hemming Mason and other members of the Etruscan School, with which Richmond was closely associated. Related studies are in the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, and a private collection.