George Fennel Robson was commissioned by Mrs. Haldimand to form a representative collection of watercolours by 'the best watercolur painters of the day' between 1826 and 1828. Ninety-seven of the watercolours were sold Christie's, London, 18 March 1980, The Haldimand Collection. It was clear from the 1861 sale catalogue that three drawings were missing in 1980, including the present watercolour.
Mrs Haldimand had seen a small oil painting by Linnell of woodcutters resting when it was exhibited at the British Institute in 1827. Painted in 1820, and based on a drawing made in 1815 when Linnell spent the month of May near Windsor, it is now in the Lady Lever Gallery, Port Sunlight. Mrs Haldimand asked Robson to commission a watercolour on the same design, and Linnell responded with the present watercolour, which took five days to complete. It was presented to Mrs Haldimand on 9 July 1827, and she paid fifteen guineas for it.
The composition held continuing interest for Linnell. Having originally sketched them in 1815, he went on to produce an etching in reverse entitled Woodcutters' Repast, 1818, and three further paintings of the subject, including one for Thomas Webster in 1847.