At the start of his career, and with the exception of Pitlessie Fair, the action packed scenes for which he became so famous were always in ceiled spaces which required no landscape. Whilst working towards The Village Festival in 1808/9, a scene placed out of doors in natural light, he felt inclined to practice his hand at landscape painting which resulted in at least half a dozen sketches which have since been lost. Sheepwashing was Wilkie's only exhibited landscape, and in December 1816, just before exhibiting it, he declared, somewhat erroneously, that, 'landscape [was] entirely new' to him, adding: 'I certainly wish to get practise and to obtain some kind of proficiency in this way; but my ambition is not more than that of enabling myself to paint an out-door scene with facility, and in no respect whatever to depart from my own line.' Despite the accomplishment and charm of his landscape studies, Wilkie was true to his word in not developing the art for its own sake. Even as a subsidiary element landscape is rare.
He is not known to have painted landscape after 1824, a year that marked the end of his friendship with Perry Nursey. Wilkie's friendship with Nursey did much to sustain the formers interest in landscape studies. When Wilkie came to know Nursey in 1814, the latter was in contact with Constable. Wilkie first visited the family near Woodbridge in Suffolk and following Nursey's amateur example indulged in some landscape sketches. He painted several small landscapes in the district between then and 1822 (two of which are in the Tate Gallery, London).