February, Fill Dyke. Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923). 1881. Oil on canvas. H 121.9 x W 183 cm. Photo credit: Birmingham Museums Trust. Collection: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Accession no. 1914P308, bequeathed by Mrs Wilson, 1914. Kindly made available via Art UK on the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Click on the image to enlarge it.
Lewis Lusk tells us that this painting, and In the Evening It Shall Be Light, were the ones that led to Leader's election to A.R.A. in 1883. As a critic, he finds Leader's work characterised by "[s]weetness rather than grandeur." He goes on to describe the "prevailing note of his work" as "lyric," and to explain the title of this one as follows:
In a little summary of his career, which he has been so kind as to make for me, he describes this as "A November Evening after Rain"; most of us remember the old saying: ”February fill the dyke, with the black or with the white,” i.e., rain or snow, the result being a presage of value to farmers. Mr. Leader is famous for his rain-filled rutty roads. In this instance the dyke has been filled with the black. 
The forecast, it seems, is for rain. — Jacqueline Banerjee
Lusk, Lewis. "B. W. Leader, RA." The Art Journal (attached monograph). Internet Archive. Vol. 63 (1901). Contributed by the Getty Research Institute. Web. 4 September 2020.
Created 4 September 2020