Corot painted this study in the summer of 1832 or 1833 in Bas-Bréau, a section of Fontainebleau forest that was famous for its immense oak trees. It was executed in the naturalistic style that he had previously developed in Italy. The tree reappears in Hagar in the Wilderness, the large canvas he exhibited at the 1835 Paris Salon. Improbably, in his realization of that biblical scene, Corot transplanted the oak from northern France to the Palestine desert.
Corot gave this work to his friend Célestin Nanteuil (1813–1873), who made a reproductive lithograph after Hagar.