Barnes painted many desolate scenes like this one, a moonlit landscape in which an isolated house, with a single ghostly figure standing in the doorway, balances tenuously on a hilltop. The artist, who was self–taught, seems to have transferred this mood to his practice, sometimes painting in a largely dark studio, his canvas illuminated by a single lightbulb. High Peak was included in MoMA's 1943 exhibition Romantic Painting in America, which presented Romantic art as "the temporary triumph of Imagination over Reason in the war between the two." Barnes was described as continuing an American tradition of "the Romanticism of night and mystery" established by the nineteenth–century American painter Albert Pinkham Ryder. High Peak was purchased for the Museum's collection from that show.
Gallery label from American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe, August 17, 2013–January 26, 2014 .