As a boy, Collins studied under the artist George Morland, a family friend. Collins specialised in agricultural and fishing scenes. Sentimental rural scenes with children were a staple of his work. Here three well-fed children are tying the bundles of cut grain into sheaves, using stalks of the grain. The next stage of the process would be to collect the sheaves together and stack them in ‘stooks’ for drying. There is no suggestion in this painting of the poverty and hard manual labour undertaken by rural labourers; this is a view designed to appeal to the Victorian art buyer.
Collins was very successful in his lifetime. Admirers of his work included the Duke of Devonshire, Sir Robert Peel and later King George VI. Collins was the father of the author Wilkie Collins, particularly known for The Woman in White and The Moonstone.