Led by Anton Mauve, the group of Dutch painters known as the Hague School distinguished itself by its exceptional rendering of moody atmosphere and light. As a Dutch critic wrote of the Hague School in 1875, "The artists try, by preference, to render mood; and they give precedence to tone above color… They have revealed the poetry of gray in a hitherto unprecedented manner." Like the Barbizon painters (see 1933.37), they preferred to work out-of-doors and remained true to the tonality of the Dutch countryside, affected by the moist climate. Mauve's A Dutch Road reveals his characteristic "poetry of gray" and his debt to the great Dutch seventeenth-century masters of landscape (see 1978.68) and the French Realist artist Jean-François Millet (1814-1875). Unlike Millet, who often depicted the struggle of man against nature, Mauve emphasized the bond between them. Anton Mauve began his artistic career at age sixteen when he was apprenticed to a painter who specialized in cattle, followed by brief study with a renowned horse painter. Around 1880, widely known and in great demand, Mauve moved from The Hague to rural Laren. The village, its interiors, the peasant families, and the workers in the fields fascinated him, and the human figure took on greater importance in his work. Mauve and the other Hague School artists attached great importance to studies from life as well as to a spontaneous reaction to nature. Finding inspiration in what he considered the heroic aspects of everyday life, Mauve, along with other like-minded nineteenth-century artists, such as Jules Breton (see 1922.41), tried to depict nature and the "simple life" that was being swept away by the Industrial Revolution and rapid urbanization.