Millet used a style called Realism in this painting. The artist represented subject matter truthfully and naturally, without artificiality and avoided artistic conventions, exotic, implausible and supernatural elements. On 18 February 1873, the artist wrote to Frédéric Hartmann, his patron, stating that he had almost finished the painting for the Durand-Ruel, a dealer, and was hoping to deliver the work the following week. In the letter, he described the painting saying that it's a hillock, with one tree that has very few leaves, which he placed far back in this picture. The setting of this painting is near Barbizon town, where the artist lived from 1849 until the day he died. The painting features a woman and several turkeys.
In the background, there is a village on a lower plane. In the centre of this painting, there is an image that looks like a chimney affixed to the roof of the small house; it was identified as the destroyed tower of the nearby hamlet of a commune called Chailly-en-Bière in Seine-et-Marne, which was used mainly as an open-air furnace. This effect that the artist describes (putting the hill far back on the painting) is similar in the 1867–69 realism painting In the Auvergne. In his late works, the artist showed that he was highly original and an idiosyncratic landscape painter. A likely catalyst that led to this development was when Théodore Rousseau died in 1867. In turn, this prompted Hartmann to request Millet to paint some landscapes that the artist had left unfinished, which had been already paid for.
The setting - both place and time - had been an inherent feature of peasant subjects by Millet. Here, against the dark sky, the certainty of winter stays fleeting by the contrasting sunshine picking out 3 birds to the right side of the tree plus the grass between the rocks located at the lower right side, which is long where it would make it more difficult to cut. Leicester Galleries, London owned a total of 6 sketches for this painting in 1961. A chalk drawing after Alfred Robaut's picture is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Félix Edouard Vallotton etched the composition.