In the spring of 1900 when Yeats was staying in Dublin, he made several watercolours of the Rocky Valley on the border of County Wicklow, between Bray and Enniskerry (see H. Pyle, Jack B. Yeats, His Watercolours, Drawings and Pastels, 1993, nos.207-211). The present painting, depicting a stream winding through the valley floor, likely relates to this series and stands as one of his earliest known oils. Not only that, it is interesting to see Yeats focusing purely on landscape, when his career both preceding and following the present painting is by and large defined by his figurative work. It was not until 1906 that Yeats turned his attention more seriously from watercolour to oil, where in Clifden, Co. Galway, he did embark on a series of landscapes of which only one now exists. In 1913 in Kerry, Yeats had his most productive period of non-figurative landscape, which surface again in a series of works at Skibbereen from 1919 but thereafter he only painted occasional, single views of landscapes.
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