The picture was probably painted in the fields lying behind Farnham House, the home of Frank and Lily Millet, which was the social centre of the colony of Anglo-American artists and writers who gathered together summer at Broadway in the English Cotswolds during the 1880s. Sargents was a dominant personality in this high spirited gathering of friends and hangers-on, and by far the most avant-garde of the artists. He amazed the writer and critic Edmund Gosse by his habit at Broadway of advancing into the open with his easel, and then suddenly planting himself down "nowhere in particular, behind a barn, opposite a wall, in the middle of a field. The process was like that in the game of musical chairs where the player has to stop dead, wherever he may happen to be, directly the piano stops playing. The other painters were all astonished at Sargent's never "selecting" a point of view, but he explained it in his half-inarticulate way. His object was to acquire the habit of reproducing presisely whatever met his vision without the slightest previous "arrangement" of detail, the painter's business being not to pick and choose, but to render the effect before him, whatever it may be.
Sargent was being a little disingenuous in his remarks to Gosse, for "Home Fields" demonstrates a distinct composition and mood and is not the result simply of casual observation. The picture takes up the theme of the orchards which Sargent had painted at Nice in 1883-4, and which herald his Impressionist phase. But in contrast to those earlier scenes, "Home Fields" is deliberately assertive and dramatic. The fence divides the landscape into two segments and leads the eye deep into picture space, to the orange walls of the old barn and the distant line of trees, and the roof and chimney of a house. Nothing demonstrates so well Sargent's ability to take a motif as humble as a fence, and to endow it with character and meaning through a bold formal arrangement and startling illumination. He takes pleasure in detailing its rugged textures and dilapidated appearance, as if in some easure it stands for the rooted and enduring spirit of the countryside.