The son of a Baptist preacher, Dutch realist painter Anton Mauve would go against his parent's wishes and enter into formal training as an artist. He disliked the rigid, academic methods of his mentor, Van Os, however and soon abandoned much of his formal style and technique.
He worked, instead, in the manner suggested by his artist friends Jozef Israels and W. Marls, who led him to discard his more formal and finished works for a freer style of brushwork. He also turned to a palette of less brilliant hue and began to rely on the atmospheric colors of grey, green and blue.
His mature style placed him in the ranks of The Hague School of artists, who worked and lived in The Hague from around 1860 to 1890. This group of painters found a great deal of inspiration in the French Barbizon School of realist painters. Both groups used "en plein air" techniques, with dynamic and free brushwork, to capture the immediacy and reality of the natural environment of their preferred locations. Unlike the Barbizon painters, however, The Hague school used a much more subdued palette, and was often referred to as the "Gray School".
Mauve would craft works of lyrical and soothing quality, successfully depicting the hazy atmosphere of Holland's countryside. His canvases frequently focus on outdoor settings, with peasants at work, or other people in the scene. He especially favored scenes of sheep herding, and these found great popularity with the American public.
He also served as a teacher to Van Gogh for a brief time, but the two would quarrel over the younger artist's refusal to perfect his drawing and modeling skills. His works are in the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Mesdag Museum in The Hague.