Linnell painted four versions of Reapers at Noon, of which this is the first. It was purchased by Brooks, a dealer with premises in Regent Street, London, in 1862. He promised to exhibit it at the Royal Academy summer exhibition of that year, and Linnell was highly disappointed when he failed to do so. Perhaps as a direct consequence Linnell produced a second version of the subject which was bought by William Agnew after it was exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1865, no. 377. That version subsequently entered the collection of Sir Henry Tate and is now in Tate Britain, London. Linnell claimed that the subject was 'truer to Nature than most pictures', although his friendship with William Blake and Samuel Palmer helped imbue the scene with a greater symbolism and spirtual resonance than the rural landscapes produced by his contemporaries.