The painting highlights several social issues of rural life. The scene shows a wife reproaching her husband for poaching a rabbit, a crime that could lead to prison. The effect of rural poverty is shown in the realistic depiction of the father, wife and daughter. They are thin and their clothes are dirty and unkempt. The wife has the muscular arms of a labourer.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) praised the painting as, ' by far the best picture in the Suffolk Street rooms this year...full of pathos, and true painting'. He then went on to chide the artist for the Pre-raphaelite preference for 'ugly things better than beautiful ones'.
The painting has been previously attributed to John Everitt Millais (1829-1896), influenced by Millais' reference to a work of his own called 'The Poachers Wife', mentioned in a letter to his wife, 4th May 1860.