Over the summers of 1910 and 1911, Sir Alfred James Munnings whiled away some of the happiest days of his life painting in rural seclusion, referring to his summer painting grounds as his "Arcadias." This evocative and early landscape likely depicts the environs around Mendham, where the River Waveney and its tributary the River Dove were a favored subject. A decade removed from his first exhibition at the Royal Academy, the 34 year old artist may have been drawn to the riverside because of its associations with his childhood home, situated over a mill on the same river seen here, commenting in his memoirs:
"My native village of Mendham on the River Waveney, which divides Norfolk from Suffolk, and which was to be my painting ground for six years after leaving the artist’s room in Norwich [Art School]…our familiar view from the mills since childhood had been across the meadows to the village… These elms, domed and shaped in massed beauty, changed as the summer days happened to be cloudy, clear hot or cool. On such a day as this they would have appeared purple through the heat haze as we looked into the sun" (Sir Alfred James Munnings, An Artist’s Life, London, 1951, p. 77).
The superb, loose brushstrokes and soft tonality of this scene reflect Munnings embrace of Impressionistic vigor. In particular, the beautiful gradations of cream and grey reflect the artist's life-long fascination with light and color. The present work represents one of the artist’s favorite landscapes, which he would revisit throughout the years. He repeated this scene when the heather on the opposite side of the lake was in bloom and recreated similar scenes at Langham Mill Pond in his later life.