Environs d'Arleux, Paysanne conduisant une vache au pâturage, effet de matin was painted circa 1865-1870. Jules Castagnary wrote not long thereafter: "(Corot) played his role in the revolution from which the modern landscape emerged. He was one of that first glorious group who so boldly battled the influence, then supreme, of the Michallons and the Bertins, and now at the end he is the last surviving victor. A master in his turn, he saw many generations of young men pass through his studio. They came to ask him the secret of his strength." (quoted in G. Tinterow, "Le Pére Corot: The Very Poet of Landscape", Corot, 1996, exh. cat., p. 259). Corot is credited with being a progenitor of Impressionism. His method of painting en plein air drew the interest of Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Morisot and Pissarro, all of whom either experimented with Corot's technique or called themselves his "pupils."
From the mid-1860s onward, the demand for Corot's paintings was inexhaustible. During this period Emperor Napoleon III bought two of Corot's paintings: his 1864 Salon entry Souvenier de Mortefontaine (Musée du Louvre) and La Solitude of 1866 (location unknown). Contemporary critics wrote glowingly of his work: "M. Corot has a remarkable quality that has eluded most of our artists today: he knows how to invent. His point of departure is always nature, but when he arrives at the interpretation of it, he no longer copies, he remembers it" (Du Camp, 1864).
Financially independent, Corot did not have to rely on the Académie des Beaux Arts for his advancement and remuneration, and was thus always free to paint in his own manner. While his works always received acclaim, it was not until the period in which the present painting was painted that Corot was given more official sanction in the form of honours and. After the public protests that surrounded the Salon of 1863, Corot was elected by the constituent artists to serve as a member of the jury in 1864, 1865, 1866 and 1870, eventually becoming hors concours and thus able to enter his own work directly. Corot was therefore able to advance his artistic vision by the promotion of his followers in the Salon.