The harvest festival was a triumphant event in every Russian village. Throughout the festival, an unrestrained merriment reigned among the villagers. Special food was prepared and songs of praise were sung to those who had helped to bring in the harvest. The reapers made sheaves out of the last ears of corn, which were decorated with ribbons and then ceremoniously carried into the village by the queen of the harvest. The harvest festival was a particularly brightly coloured event and was accompanied by rites intended to ensure future harvests. Play and Passion in Russian Fine Art. St-Petersburg. 1999. P. 112.
Alexei Tomilov was a well-known expert and admirer of art, an art collector and one of the founders of a society to encourage artists. Artists, sculptors and art tutors regularly visited his estate. Zabolotsky too was a guest of Tomilov and in this picture depicts a scene from a peasant celebration he witnessed. Right up to the nineteenth century, traditional peasant celebrations connected with the annual cycle of agricultural work retained the rudiments of ancient magic rites intended to increase the fertility of the soil. Play and Passion in Russian Fine Art. St-Petersburg. 1999. P. 112.