After a two-year honeymoon in Italy Crane and his wife Mary moved to Florence House, Wood Lane, Shepherd's Bush in May 1873. The name of the house and the poplars surrounding it evoked pleasant memories of their protracted foreign tour, and Crane continued to paint similar subjects to those he had depicted abroad. The houses in Wood Lane, he wrote in his autobiography, 'mostly dated from the early years of the nineteenth century, and they all possessed gardens of various and some of considerable extent, with the further advantage of orchards and meadow-land, bounded by a fine belt of trees which effectively shut out "the hideous town", and made a pleasant oasis in the midst of brick fields. The house we pitched upon...[had] a pleasant lawn with old apple trees upon it, no doubt originally part of the orchard which still existed beyond the boundary wall' (An Artist's Reminiscences, 1907, p. 154). Our drawing may show the artist's own garden with these apple trees.
In 1876 the Cranes' liking for Shepherd's Bush caused them to take a lease of Beaumont Lodge, the house of their friend and neighbour E.J. Poynter, which had a garden studio converted from stables by Philip Webb.
The proximity of blossoming apple trees no doubt helped to fuel Crane's obsession with the theme of spring, which he expressed time after time in his paintings. An example close in date to our drawing, The Advent of Spring, which was commissioned by Somerset Beaumont in Italy and painted on Crane's return to London in 1873, was sold by Christie's in New York on 25 May 1995, lot 97.
We are grateful to Anthony Crane for his help in preparing this entry.