Crespi was the direct heir of the Carracci as a painter of everyday life, and played an important role in developing a taste for such scenes among his contemporaries. His interest in peasant subjects dates from his stay in Florence in 1709. This painting and its companion, 'Peasants with Donkeys' probably date from shortly after this.
In this painting, three peasants, perhaps shepherds, play a large triangle with rings, a recorder and a lyre. Behind them are soldiers and riders. Crespi uses nocturnal light effects to increase the drama of the scene.
Like its companion this picture has been cut down at the left and the top edges.