In 1871 Corot left Paris and the upheaval of Commune life to stay with his biographer and friend Alfred Robaut at Douai in north-east France.
This is a view of the marshy landscape around Douai. Four other pictures that Corot started on this trip to the Artois are in the National Gallery: 'The Marsh at Arleux', 'A Wagon in the Plains of Artois', 'The Oak in the Valley' and 'Landscape at Arleux-du-Nord'.
The present sketch is a copy after a nature study by Alfred Robaut painted in May 1871. It is a close copy except for the cottage which is a detail added by Corot.