Les marchands de boeufs is part of Léger's 1921 Paysages animés series of modern landscapes with figures, in which the artist explored the relationship between figures, building and nature in rural Normandy, where he spent the summer of that year. Les marchands de boeufs specifically relates to the oils depicting farmers at the cattle market (Bauquier nos. 275, 276 & 282-285).
As Léger responded to the post-War rappel à l'ordre, the 'call to order' taken by the parisian avant-guarde, he became increasingly interested in traditional values and classical ideals that formed the enduring art of the past. He looked back especially to Poussin and Corot. In his Paysages animés he was keen on making his own significant statement in which he would unite the order of classicism with modern life.