Gauld was an apprentice lithographer with Gilmour and Deen from 1882 at the Glasgow School of Art and Haldane Academy. He attended classes until 1885 and in 1887 he joined the staff of the 'Glasgow Weekly Citizen' as an illustrator. The influence of the Japanese print is obvious in his early works, both in his illustrations and his oil paintings. Although this phase of his work was short lived, the influence carried through to his stained glass designs, in association with the firm of Guthrie and Wells. His most important stained glass commission was for St. Andrew's Scottish Church in Buenos Aires and took him ten years to complete. The result of the exchange between his painting and his stained glass designs produces a rich, flat painted surface combined with a sharp, angular delineation of shapes.
The present work can be dated to post-1900. When Gauld returned to oil painting after the completion of the Buenos Aires project 'it was as a producer of popular images of cattle and calves which came to adorn many middle-class Glasgow drawing rooms, along with the later paintings of Hornel and two younger Glasgow men, William Wells and W.A. Gibson.' (R. Bilcliffe, The Glasgow Boys, 1985, p. 268).