Matthias Read has been described as the ‘father of Cumbrian painting’, although he originated from London. He settled in Whitehaven and much of his early work shows the strong influence of Read’s Dutch master, Jan Wyck. Read achieved a degree of commercial success when he was commissioned by Lord John Lowther to make copies of some of the paintings in the Lowther collection, including works by Italian Renaissance masters.
Calder Abbey is situated in west Cumbria beside the River Calder. The abbey was founded in 1134 by Ranulph de Meschines, Lord of Copeland, as a Benedictine monastery for a colony of monks from Furness Abbey. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, decreed by Henry VIII, it passed into secular hands and this painting was probably commissioned by the Senhouse family who owned the abbey in the 1720s.