The status of this picture has been questioned in the past, but it is now generally accepted as original. It has been suggested that the picture shows the Vale of Tempe in Thessaly as described by the ancient author Aelian in the 'Varia Historia'.
Probably painted in the late 1640s for Jean Pointel (died 1660), a Paris merchant who was one of Poussin's principal patrons. The painting was admired by John Constable who wrote that it was 'the most affecting picture I almost ever stood before'.
This picture was presented by Sir George Beaumont in 1826.