David Teniers II became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1632 following an apprenticeship with his father. In 1637, he married Anna, the youngest daughter and heiress of Jan Brueghel I. In a long and highly distinguished career he held many important posts, serving as Master of the Chapel of the Holy Family in St. Jacobskerk, from 1637-9. He was elected dean of the St. Luke's Guild in 1644 and was working for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, Governor of the Southern Netherlands, by 1647, being made court painter in 1651. Teniers moved from Antwerp to Brussels in 1656 to further his career in his new role. He was ambitious and craved the sort of status achieved by Rubens and van Dyck before him. He counted some of Europe's leading families among his patrons including Leopold Wilhelm's successor, Don Juan of Austria, Prince Willem II of Orange, Queen Christina of Sweden, and Philip IV of Spain. By the 1660s Teniers enjoyed great esteem as an artist and his works commanded high prices, making him a wealthy man and enabling him to purchase a country house, 'Dry Toren', situated close to the Archducal palace, and near Rubens' own former residence, 'Het Steen', in his quest to acquire the trappings of nobility.
It was during this period of success that he turned his creative energy to depicting idealised rural life and his work at this time comprised mostly bright landscapes and outdoor scenes, populated with contented peasants and farmers. This large canvas, dated 1677, is a particularly fine example from this late period of Teniers' highly productive career. The gentle, undulating landscape, reminiscent of Rubens, is the scene for a cheerful livestock market, with farmers and traders haggling over their sheep, cattle and pigs. The arcadian atmosphere is further emphasised by the elegant couple on the left under the tree, who are being served by a young boy, while the man plays the violin, and the cavorting peasants on the far right of the picture. Teniers subtly contrasts this carefree, idealised rural setting with urban life by incorporating a distant, yet clearly recognisable skyline of the city of Antwerp on the horizon.