Corot was trained in the classical tradition of landscape painting. His pictures, unlike those of his contemporaries Théodore Rousseau or Charles Daubigny, are often populated with peasant workers. He found it difficult to imagine landscape without a human presence. Corot’s friendship with the painter and lithographer Constant Dutilleux (1807-1865) led him to spend much of his later life in the then agriculturally rich region of Artois in north-eastern France. This work was painted there, probably in the 1860s. The man scything in the foreground is an unusual figure in Corot’s work, as he rarely gave his figures such specific activities.