In a letter to his wife written in 1882 Mauve gave his first impression of the Gooi: ‘A beautiful area, splendid heath; there are sheep here as well, magnificent thatched roofs and some very intimate spots.’
This painting shows just such an intimate spot near a farmhouse. The strong colour contrasts between the Laren costume, the kid and the background of bright green grass show how far Mauve’s work had moved away from the grey palette. A sense of good-natured everyday contact between people and animals is to be found in the work of most of the Hague School painters. Mauve however, avoided any such emphasis and reduced any anecdotal elements to a bare minimum: the expression of the peasant woman in this picture gives little away. Max Liebermann, who first met Mauve in 1884, drew inspiration from Laren works such as this, but it is striking how his Woman with kids of 1891, for example, is dynamic and filled with movement, whereas Mauve preferred to depict the serenity of this simple wordless action.
Source: R. de Leeuw, J. Sillevis, Ch. Dumas (eds.), The Hague School: Dutch masters of the 19th century, The Hague 1983