This is the second version—left incomplete by Pellizza da Volpedo and then finished by the painter Angelo Barabino—of another canvas that was long considered lost and then reappeared for auction at Sotheby's in London in 1980, having been kept in a private collection in England for almost 40 years.
"Idillio primaverile," or Spring Idyll (1896–1901)—the title of the original work—was initially conceived as the first in a series of idyll paintings around the theme of love. The image was meant to represent a metaphor for life, which blossoms and flourishes again in the spring landscape.
The depiction of the children playing Ring a Ring o' Roses was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1903 where, despite conflicting reviews, it attained remarkable success with the public, before it was sold to an Amsterdam merchant in Rome in 1906. Perhaps it was the success of this image that encouraged Pellizza to replicate the "Spring Idyll," using the same canvas as the original, but presumably thinking to add variations, different to those done by Barabini, so as to differentiate the design from Volpedo's painting.
In terms of the compositional structure, the artist found inspiration in a successful 17th-century work by Francesco Albani, "La danza degli amorini" (The Dance of the Cupids), which is kept in the Pinocateca di Brera, but with the scene changed to the natural setting of Volpedo, specifically the meadows adjacent to his family residence.