By 1880, around the time he painted this picture in East Hampton, Samuel Colman had been abroad. He visited France and Spain in 1860 - 1861 and spent much of the first half of the 1870s in Europe, traveling across the Mediterranean and to Egypt and Morocco. He also explored the American West and made paintings from his trips there.
Colman's return to the rustic setting of Farmyard, East Hampton reaffirms the worth of cherished principles and values in the face of a rapidly changing America. The painting evokes a pre-industrial past and nostalgia for a vanishing rural scene, a sentiment that viewers of Colman's work would have easily understood. His choice to omit from the whirring activity of this barnyard scene any human presence may have alerted the viewer to the fragility of a passing way of life. The gathering storm clouds add another portentous note to the pastoral scene and enhance the somber tonality of the painting.