Hans Thoma was one of Germany's outstanding painters in the late 19th century. Trained in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf in the 1860s, he met Gustave Courbet during a long stay in Paris and was deeply influenced by him. Dividing his career between Munich, Frankfurt and Florence, he was one of the "German Romans" who found in the observation of Renaissance art a means of contemporary expression which played a major role in the genesis of European symbolism at the end of the century.
Reminiscences of Italy, as found in the tradition of classical landscapes initiated by Poussin, are particularly obvious in this painting. Close to Arnold Böcklin's dreamy pantheism, Thoma is nonetheless conspicuously different from the Swiss artist in his preference for prosaic country scenes over mythology. In its lyricism, Rest forges a link with the many peasant scenes that Thoma had already painted.