In 1857 Anton Romako moved from Vienna to Rome where he stayed for almost twenty years, during which time he entertained many artist friends, including Anselm Feuerbach and Franz Liszt.
By 1860 he was already an established artist and his work was highly sought after by King Ludwig of Bavaria as well as many other foreign visitors. His style appealed especially to the Anglo-Saxon market and many of his paintings ended up in America and England.
At the end of the 1860's, Romako painted some of the most outstanding works of his oeuvre, although not many dated works from this period are known. The Gleaners, which is dated 1868, is therefore a unique but also outstanding example from the height of Romako's career, in which romantic elements are rendered with an almost photographic precision and contrasts in colour and tone are juxtaposed to extraordinary effect.
Although Romako's career is not extensively documented, it is known that he won a medal in 1869 which may well have been for the present work. The quality and the size of The Gleaners certainly suggest that its execution was an important event in the artist's career.