Swidden Farming was purchased by the Finnish Art Association in 1893, the same year Järnefelt exhibited it there.
Bengt von Bonsdorff notes:
“[T]he years 1892-93 were tough famine years in Finnish agriculture and sympathy for the poor was widespread. Against that background and the fact that the artist belonged to an aristocratic and affluent social class, [scholars] have also speculated about the influence of a bad conscience on [Järnefelt’s] choice of subject.”
Bengt von Bonsdorff, “Sved” in 1880-tal i nordisk måleri. Exhibition catalogue (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, 1985), p. 132.